New Rules of Golf: 15 things you need to know for 2019

New Rules of Golf: 15 things you need to know for 2019

Amateur

New Rules of Golf: 15 things you need to know for 2019

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Paul Goydos and Ben Crane check out spike marks in 2009. (Chris Condon/PGA Tour)

Repairing the green

This rule change will get a lot of attention: Players will be able to fix many more imperfections on a green than in the past.

Players will be allowed to repair ball marks; shoe damage, including spike marks; scrapes and indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick; old hole plugs; turf plugs; seams of cut turf; scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles; animal tracks; or embedded objects such as stones, acorns or tees. Basically, any unintended damage made by another player or outside influence is fair game.

Players also can remove loose sand or soil on the green’s surface or on the teeing area, but not anywhere else on the course.

Players still will not be allowed to repair imperfections on a green caused by normal maintenance practices such as aeration holes or vertical mowing; irrigation; rain or other natural forces; weeds; bare areas; or areas with uneven growth of grass. And players cannot repair natural wear to the hole itself.

Players are allowed to use their hand, foot or other part of their body to repair damage. They also can use a normal ball-mark repair tool, a tee, a club or other normal piece of equipment. Players cannot, for instance, use a specially weighted device on a roller with the intention of flattening an intended line to the hole, as that is not a normal piece of equipment. A player using a method that exceeds what is reasonable is subject to penalty.

This rule should help players who face surface damage caused by other players, especially helping those who tee off later in the day of a tournament after spike marks become prevalent. But many observers have noted this change could slow play, as persnickety golfers try to repair all perceived damage. The rule stipulates these touch-ups to the putting surface should not unreasonably delay play, but no time restrictions are stipulated.

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