20 Most Important Changes to Rules of Golf - Effective January 1, 2019
This is an expanded list of the 20 most important changes to the rules of golf that you need to know. For more information about these rule changes, please go to www.usga.org.
1. Search time - reduced from 5 to 3 minutes
2. Ball moving during search - replace (no penalty)
3. Embedded ball - free relief from anywhere
4. Measuring a drop - use longest club (except a putter)
5. Dropping - knee height rather than shoulder
6. Taking stance on wrong green not permitted
7. Ball hits player or equipment - no penalty
8. Double hit - counts as one stroke
9. Touching sand in bunker accidentally is permitted
10. Loose impediments can be removed anywhere
11. Drop a ball out of a bunker - 2 penalty strokes
12. Water hazards now called penalty areas
13. Touching ground in water / penalty areas acceptable
14. Ball moves on green after being marked - put back without penalty
15. Ball accidentally moved on putting green - replace (no penalty)
16. Can repair all damage on green
17. Positioning a club for alignment not permitted
18. Caddie assisting with alignment not permitted
19. Ball hitting a flagstick on putting green allowed
20. Ball wedged against side of hole and flagstick deemed as holed
Learn about Handicaps
Q. WHAT IS A GOLF HANDICAP?
A. To be technically correct, the term is ‘handicap index’. It is simply a mathematical computation using your 10 best scores in the 20 most recent rounds. This final number represents your potential as a golfer at your current skill level and approximates how many strokes more than par you should be able to play.
Q. HOW DO I ESTABLISH A HANDICAP?
A. As a LPGA Amateur Golf Association member you have 2 options: First, a free handicapping service is provided with your LPGA Amateur Golf Association membership through 2019. This is called GN21. Go to the LPGA Amateur Golf Association national website, www.lpgaamateurs.com, and login. Then navigate to My Handicap listed on the left side of the home page and you will automatically be logged into your handicap record. Using the GN21 system, you may only post your scores via the internet.
The second handicapping service is GHIN, a national service, which is accessed through our affiliation with Southern California Golf Association. Membership is for 12 months at the current cost of $36 per member. Members of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association who wish to maintain a GHIN index should contact Marilyn Freeman. The Chapter will pay for your first year of GHIN services. After the first year, members will be notified by SCGA.org to renew and must pay the renewal price, currently $36. Using the GHIN system, members may post their scores either at the course, or via the internet.
For more information on either of these services contact our handicap chair Marilyn Freeman.
Q. WHY DO I NEED TO ESTABLISH A HANDICAP, I.E. INDEX?
A. First of all, an index gives you your own gage of whether you are improving your game or taking a step backwards. Additionally, an index enables you to participate in the games (and resulting prizes) in LPGA Amateur Golf Association events. And, finally, an index allows you to compete in events of other organizations/golf clubs. An index provides a way for golfers with different abilities to play and compete on a relatively even basis at any course.
Q. HOW MANY ROUNDS OF GOLF DOES IT TAKE TO ESTABLISH A HANDICAP?A. You need to post at least 5 18-hole rounds of golf to establish a handicap index. Your index is ultimately based on the best 10 of the last 20 rounds.
Q. CAN I POST 9-HOLE ROUNDS IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH A HANDICAP?
A. Yes, 9-hole rounds can be posted and used for handicapping. When another 9 hole round is played, it will be combined with your last 9 hole round to form an 18 hole score.
Q. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HANDICAP INDEX AND COURSE HANDICAP?
A. We’ve already explained your Handicap Index (the best 10 out of your last 20 scores). However, the Course Handicap will be adjusted either up or down depending upon the difficulty of the course you are playing. You can find your course handicap by checking online at usga.org, handicapping, course ratings & calculators, course handicap calculator. To do this, however, you will need to know the Slope of the tee box from which you will play. Additionally, each course will have conversion charts in the pro shop from which you can obtain this information. Basically, the Course Handicap is an indicator of how many strokes over par you will score on a particular course from a particular tee box.
Q. HOW DO I KNOW WHAT THE DIFFICULTY OF THE COURSE IS?
A. There are 2 very important numbers that each course has – the Rating and the Slope. The Rating is the USGA’s mark that indicates the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer (higher than 0 handicap) under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of a scratch golfer. For example, the Rancho Bernardo Inn has a Rating of 68.5 from the forward tees and the Golf Club of California has a Rating of 71.3.
The Slope is the USGA’s mark that indicates the measurement of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the Course Rating. The lowest Slope is 55 and the highest is 155. A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a Slope of 113. For example, the Rancho Bernardo Inn has a Slope of 119 from the forward tees and the Golf Club of California has a Slope of 129. From these numbers, you can tell that the Golf Club of California is more difficult than the Rancho Bernardo Inn and more difficult than the standard slope.
The Rating and Slope for each tee box are indicated on the course scorecard.
Q. HOW WELL SHOULD I BE PLAYING?
A. Here are some reassuring facts. The average golfer should only be expected to play to your Course Handicap 25% of the time. You should average 3 strokes higher than your course handicap. And, of 20 scores you will only have one score that will be 2 strokes better than your course handicap. This is all because the USGA Handicap System is based upon the Potential Ability of a player rather than the average of all of her scores. A player’s Handicap Index reflects her potential because it is based upon her best scores posted, ideally the best 10 out of 20 scores. Since the USGA has her worst scores tossed out, the Handicap Index reflects only her best days!
Q. NOW THAT I HAVE THIS HANDICAP INDEX, HOW DO I USE IT?
A. This will enable you to compete on a level playing field in golf events. This includes chapter friendly, non-tournament events that occur several times a month. Many of these events give prizes for gross and net scores and an index is needed to determine your net score. This leads to the next commonly asked question…
Q WHAT ARE ‘POPS’?
A. So now you have 2 important numbers – your handicap index and the course handicap. When you play in many LPGA Amateur Golf Association events, you’ll often hear participants talk about their “pops”. Your Course Handicap generally shows how many strokes over par you will probably score on your round. Your Course Handicap will equal your total number of pops. So you will subtract your pops from your total score to get your net score. Usually, each hole will be popped on your scorecard. For example, if your Course Handicap is 36, you will receive 2 pops on each hole. If you score a 6 on a par 4 and you get 2 pops, your net on that hole will be a 4 – congratulations on your par! It does get more complicated than that, however. What if your Course Handicap is 28? Well, clearly you’ll get at least one pop on each hole and then there are 10 holes on which you’ll get one more pop. But which holes are they? When you look at a scorecard, you’ll see a line labeled “handicap”. This is the rating of the relative difficulty of each hole on the course – from 1 to 18, with 1 being the most difficult. Therefore, you’ll get your additional pops on the 10 most difficult holes on that course.
Q. HOW MANY STROKES CAN I TAKE ON A HOLE – IS THERE A LIMIT?
A. There are 3 answers to this question. Two are related to the numbers of strokes you play and one is relative to the number of strokes you can post. First, if you are playing in an LPGA Amateur Golf Association event other than an official competition such a Chapter Championship, you will usually be encouraged to take no more than 10 strokes on any hole. This is in the interest of maintaining pace of play – and to minimize your frustration level. In a Tournament or official competition, however, you will need to continue to play until your ball falls in the hole. Now let’s talk about posting. There is something called Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). Following is the ESC Chart which shows the maximum number of strokes you can take on any hole for posting purposes:
EQUITABLE STROKE CONTROL
MAXIMUM NUMBER ON ANY HOLE
9 or less
10 through 19
20 through 29
30 through 39
40 or more
So at the end of the day, you may have to adjust your total score to account for ESC before posting. For example, let’s say your Course Handicap is 28 and you shot a gross score of 109. Unfortunately, however, that included an 11 on one hole and you can only post a maximum of an 8. Therefore, you need to adjust your score to 106 when you post.
Q. DO I NEED TO POST ALL OF MY SCORES? WHAT IF I HAVE A REALLY BAD DAY?
A. Yes, it is important to post all of your scores. Remember that only the best 10 of the last 20 scores will be used to calculate your handicap index. Therefore, that really bad day won’t be reflected. However, if you have a really good day, it will be included in the calculation of your handicap index – and that’s a good thing! After all, our goal is to decrease our index which indicates that our game is improving
GHIN Handicap Lookup
GN21 Handicap Lookup
Post GN21 Handicap Lookup
Post your score and maintain a handicap via the LPGA Amateur Golf Association Clubhouse (GN21), log into the Clubhouse, navigate to My Handicap to post your score. If you need help with this process or your handicap, please contactMarilyn Freeman, our Santa Barbara Chapter Handicap Chair.
THE BASICS OF MATCH PLAY
Are you gearing up to participate in a match play event or league, use this guide to get a grip on the basic terminology of match play and how the format differs from individual stroke-play competition. Read More
MATCH PLAY TIPS
Here's a link to a Golf Digest article from the upcoming Sept. issue with some tips for Match Play: http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/blogs/theinstructionblog/2012/07/weekend-tip-winning-at-match-p.html
MATCH PLAY OVERVIEW
Here is a listing of Match Play Rules to remember....
Match Play Overview