weather icon Clear

New golf rules designed to make sport easier to understand

Updated January 1, 2019 - 5:55 pm

At least 31 major golf rules changes were implemented as of Jan. 1 by the U.S. Golf Association and Royal and Ancient in the first major revision and modernization since 1984, according to my estimates.

The changes range from allowing the flagstick to be left in while putting on the green, to no penalty if a player accidentally strikes the ball twice, to adjusting the height when dropping a ball back into play from the shoulder to the knee. It’s nice to see the two major golf ruling organizations recognize the need to modernize some aspects of the game to make it less intimidating and easier to understand.

In 2012, the USGA and R&A rules experts began compiling research and player feedback to create the new tapestry by which to play. To help with the transition, the organizations created a simplified Players Edition rule book, an app and several online articles, charts and guides to help explain everything.

Sue May, the new Southern Nevada Golf Association vice president and a longtime rules official who has worked several USGA major championships, has created her own guide that she is handing out at rules seminars she conducts. Seminars are scheduled for Jan. 8 at Bear’s Best and Jan. 17 at Wildhorse. Reservations and additional rules information are available at SNGA.org.

Among the goals of the new rules are to improve pace of play and simplify the language used. Gone are terms such as “hazard,” now described as “penalty area,” and “through the green,” now deemed “general area.”

“I am very enthused with the new rules, but it will be a process to get players educated because there are some significant changes,” May said. “Some that are getting attention are players will now be able to ground the club in a penalty area, remove loose impediments in a penalty area, and the time to search for a lost ball has been reduced from five to three minutes.”

May noted that players still aren’t allowed to ground a club when hitting out of a bunker and that players may decide to take a two-stroke penalty instead of hitting out of a bunker if the situation is extremely difficult.

According to Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance, the Players Edition rule book is more intuitive and features 10 simplified topical groupings, a “purpose of rule” description to better define why the rule exists, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams, and a simpler and more direct writing style.

Weekly deal

Rounds at Club at Sunrise include a $10 meal voucher.

Course stars

— The night-lit Cloud Nine at Angel Park was recently named to Golf.com’s list of the 12 best par 3 courses in America. Rates start at $10 for card members.

— The three Pete Dye signature courses at Las Vegas Paiute were named to the top 200 resort courses in America by Golfweek. A player’s advantage membership is available for lowest rates.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Las Vegas golfers must endure overseeding at courses

It’s that time of year when many golf courses undergo the dreaded overseeding process. It’s expensive for course owners and a major inconvenience for golfers.

Vegas Juniors making impact at college level

Much like the ever-growing contingent of professional tour players who have strong ties to Las Vegas, the group of local high school golfers moving on to play in college is also evolving.

PGA Tour, Houston Open to honor Butch Harmon

Last week, representatives of the PGA Tour, Houston Open and the Houston Astros Golf Foundation announced that the tournament will be known this year as the Houston Open honoring Butch Harmon.

Wes Weston claims PGA chapter championship

PGA of America professional Wes Weston shot 1-under 141 at TPC Las Vegas last week to win the 2019 Southwest Section, Southern Nevada Chapter Championship by three shots over Las Vegas Paiute’s Tom Fischer.

Golfer Collin Morikawa making move to Las Vegas

A local PGA of America golf professional has confirmed that former Cal-Berkeley all-American golfer and current PGA Tour player Collin Morikawa, 22, is making the move to Las Vegas.

New Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame class revealed

The Night of Induction is Saturday, Sept. 28 at The Hill at TPC Summerlin, preceded by a golf tournament Sept. 27 at Spanish Trail.

Bragging rights on line during Shriners Clash of the Clubs

The event is the official Monday pro-am for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and features four-player amateur teams from golf clubs who are paired with a PGA Tour professional.

Jeff Gallagher goes home, hopes to win at U.S. Senior Open

Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas golf instructor Jeff Gallagher earned a fourth-straight trip to the nation’s senior golf championship that begins Thursday in South Bend, Indiana.

Las Vegas golf courses offer lower summer rates

Some golfers stay away from courses because of triple-digit temperatures, but others embrace the season because rates are drastically reduced.