A simplified rule for relief, a new rule for replacing damaged clubs, and omitting your handicap from a scorecard is no longer a penalty under a range of new changes to the Rules of Golf.
The R&A and the United States Golf Association today announced the 2023 changes to the Rules of Golf, with groundbreaking new modifications for people with disability, and a global modernisation of the way in which the rules are made available.
The changes will come into effect worldwide on 1 January 2023. The Rules of Golf have traditionally been reviewed every four years by the two authorities.
It is the first time that specific regulations for golfers with disability have been included in the Rules of Golf.
There are four new sub-rules for golfers with disability that permit an “approved person” to perform certain actions that would result in a penalty if performed by a non-approved person. They are:
• Rule 25.2: “Modifications for Golfers Who Are Blind” (which includes certain levels of vision impairment)
• Rule 25.3: “Modifications for Golfers Who Are Amputees” (which means both those with limb deficiencies and those who have lost a limb)
• Rule 25.4: “Modifications for Golfers Who Use Assistive Mobility Devices”
• Rule 25.5: “Modifications for Golfers with Intellectual Disabilities”
For example, a golfer approved to use the new Rule 25.2 for players who are blind will be permitted to ground their club in a bunker immediately behind the ball.
Clubs and facilities will not need to be involved in the approval process under which a player is deemed to be eligible to use these rules. A panel of international experts has been commissioned to make these determinations, and all applications will be lodged via a quick and simple-to-use online process.
In the coming weeks, Golf Australia will work with the R&A to provide more information to clubs and golfers on the application process.
Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland said: “As a result of the modifications, the new sub-rules will create a level playing field by removing the rules disadvantages that have historically existed for golfers with disability, thereby resulting in a more fair and fun golfing experience for everyone. This is a terrific move by the R&A and USGA, and is something we have strongly supported through the rules-making process.”
Aside from the addition of Rule 25, the New Year will also see a series of rule changes take effect that will apply to every golfer. The main changes are:
• Simplified Back-on-the-Line Relief. This relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, has been simplified so the ball is now dropped on the line, and may roll up to one club-length in any direction without a re-drop being required.
• Handicap on Scorecard. Golfers will no longer incur a penalty under the Rules of Golf for accidentally recording an incorrect Daily Handicap on their scorecard. This change is consistent with other penalty reductions, such as reducing the penalty down to only one stroke for playing an incorrectly substituted ball.
• Replacing Damaged Clubs. If your club is damaged during a round (except in cases of abuse) you may replace it, repair it, or continue to use it.
CLICK HERE to view full details and support resources for all of the changes that will apply to every golfer.
The other significant reform associated with the 2023 Rules is that hard copies will no longer be distributed to club members and administrators. In future, access to the rules will be via R&A-approved websites and apps. In Australia, we are now working to upgrade the GA Handicap App, which has surpassed 250,000 downloads, to feature all of the R&A’s 2023 rules content. This will enable all club golfers and administrators across Australia to gain world-class access to their handicapping and rules content from the one place.
Golf Australia’s Head of Rules and Handicapping, Simon Magdulski, said Australia’s move to digital is part of the R&A’s and USGA’s global modernisation of the way in which the Rules are made available to golfers and administrators around the world.
“This initiative will eliminate any paper wastage and freighting associated with distributing 500,000 Rule books around Australia, many of which received little practical use and were intimidating to the vast majority of golfers,” said Magdulski. “This historical practice of printing rule books has become unsustainable, and the move to digital is an easy way for golf to support the environment.”
For those people seeking a hard copy of the 2023 rules, they will still be available for purchase – to source options from the various online retailers, simply Google “Official Guide to the Rules of Golf 2023”.
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