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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Dustin Johnson chats with a rules official after his ball moved on the fifth green during the final round of the U.S. Open in 2016. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Ball moves on a green

There will be no penalty if a player accidentally causes a ball or ball marker to move on a green, even if the player touches the ball with the club while addressing it before a stroke or kicks it while bending over to mark it. A player must simply move the ball back to its original spot. If the original spot is unknown, the player should make a reasonable estimate and place it there. The same applies to a ball marker that is inadvertently moved.

Things get a little trickier if the ball is deemed to have been moved by natural forces such as wind or rain. If the player has not yet lifted the ball and replaced it, then the ball should be played from its new location without penalty. But if a player already lifted a ball and replaced it, then should a natural force such as wind cause it to move, the player must replace it in its original spot without penalty.

These changes are especially important to tour-level competitors playing on championship-quality greens. The matter came to a head in the 2016 U.S. Open, when eventual champion Dustin Johnson had a ball rotate slightly on a green as he made practice swings near the ball in the final round before a worldwide television audience. Even the rules officials had trouble discerning if he had caused it to move, or if it was moved across the slick surface by wind. If the new rules had been in place, it would have been a much simpler matter of moving the ball back to its original spot without penalty.

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