Five things you missed in the 2023 Rules of Golf update

Five things you missed in the 2023 Rules of Golf update

These changes to the laws have not made the headlines but may still have an impact on the club’s game week. Steve Carroll guides you

You’ve all gone mad over the changes to Stableford penalties, the restrictions on standing behind your partner, and what to do if your ball hits a bug in the shooting area.

But while they were some of the headlines in the new 2023 golf rules, which go into effect Jan. 1, they weren’t the only tweaks.

The R&A and USGA have announced more than 40 ‘outcome changes’ between the 2019 and 2023 rules and not all of them will have caught the eye right away.

This does not mean, however, that they will not have an impact on the weekly matches you play in your clubs.

So let’s take a peek at five more new features in Rules that are worth knowing about as you enter the new year…

Making a kick on an incorrectly substituted ball

I used to get the general penalty (two shots in putt play and the loss of a hole in match play) for this blunder in Rule 6.3b. This penalty was now reduced by one stroke.

You cannot put any objects down to show the line of play

Other than putting the green, it’s OK to set an object down to show the play line – if it is removed before the stroke is made.

This is now prohibited in Rule 10.2b (1) and (2). Regardless of the area of ​​the course, “a player is not allowed to set an object down to show the line of play.”

You’ll get a generic penalty—two shots or lose a gap in match play—if you do this.

ball cleaning

You knew you could clean a ball lifted under a base and out of the shooting area. You knew you could always clean the ball if it had been lifted from anywhere else unless it was done to see if it was chipped or cracked, to identify it (cleaned only as needed to do so), because it interfered with play, or to see if it was in A condition in which relief is permitted.

The old rule 14.1c stated that a player who lifted a clean ball when he was not allowed to receive one penalty kick.

But some sharp minds have asked this question: Can you clean a ball that hasn’t been lifted?

The base bosses decided that it wasn’t clear enough if that resulted in a penalty, and under what rule.

So they rewritten 14.1c a bit to say “If a player cleans the ball when he is not allowed under this rule, they will receive a one stroke penalty and must replace the ball if it is lifted”.

Protect young trees

Most clubs use the typical local rule which aims to protect young trees from damage. Commissions are allowed to make it clear of playing areas and force players to rest using Rule 16.1f.

This still applies in the new local rule, which also gives commissions the option of either marking a group of trees as a no-go area for play or choosing to designate small trees as an abnormal condition of the course.

What’s the difference, you ask? If these trees are an abnormal path condition rather than a no-play area, you have the choice of whether or not to rest. You are not required to do this and can play the ball as is.

Think of the land under repair. You’ll likely get free rest, but you don’t always have to. If your club makes this change – set forth in Model Local Rule E-10.2 – the power is in your hands.

Embedded ball relief

This is interesting coming in the winter. You are only allowed to take the relief of an inline ball, under Rule 16, when the ball is in the general area.

The reference point for getting comfortable is the spot directly behind that ball. Is everything clear yet?

Right, what if that spot isn’t in the public area? What do you do next? In the 2019 rules, there was no requirement for this point of reference to be in the public domain. In a results document revealing major changes for 2023, the R&A and USGA said that “in some cases, relief is not available if any part of the relief area is not in the general area.”

This has been redefined in a new illustration of the inline ball rule. It says that the reference point should be in the general area and if the spot is not directly behind the ball, you should find the closest (not closest to the hole) it and use that as the reference point.

The clarification adds that while this spot is usually very close to the back where the ball is embedded, “it can be quite far.”

You might think this would never happen, but it’s a good idea to follow this same procedure also when a ball is included in the wall or face-up directly above the dugout and when the ball is in bounds but is “included next to just out of bounds”.

What do you think of the 2023 golf rule changes? Let me know with tweet.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We’ve painstakingly gone through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties at Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, online relief and so much more.

The rules of golf podcast

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin sit down to discuss the 2023 updates on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen to the streamer below, or on your favorite podcast.

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