Did you know that the rules of golf changed this year? There were over 20 official changes that went into effect on January 1, 2019. If you don't feel well versed in them, you can refer to the USGA's full text of the rules for the details. In the meantime, here are the top five you should know.
1 - Spike marks (Rule 13.1)
You may now repair damage on the putting green without penalty. As long as you are reasonable when restoring the putting green back to its original condition, you’ll be fine. In the past, players weren't allowed to repair damages. It’s nice that you can fix it now, but it also means you can no longer use those damaged parts as an excuse for missing a putt.
2 - Flagstick (Rule 13.2)
You may now putt with the flagstick left in the hole and not worry about a penalty if your ball hits it. In the past, you would have received a two-shot penalty if your ball hit the flagstick. This one is an excellent timesaver since players will no longer have to tend to the flag before they attempt their putts.
3 - Drop height (Rule 14.3)
When dropping a ball, it may no longer be from shoulder height. The new, proper way to drop it requires that the ball be dropped straight down from knee height. "Knee height" means the height of a players knee when in a standing position. Sure, the new process may look a little strange, but everyone will quickly grow accustomed to it.
4 - Loose impediments (Rule 15.1)
The new rules state that you may remove a loose impediment without penalty anywhere on or off the course. Previously, you weren't allowed to move those things (such as branches, stones, and leaves.) Now you are allowed to move them -- but be careful to ensure the ball doesn't move too. If it does, then it will count as a penalty.
5 - Search time (Rule 18.2)
Today, a golf ball is considered "lost" if it isn’t found within three minutes after the player (or their caddie) begins to search for it. Before the rule change, players were given more time (five minutes) to find their ball. So for this one, be sure to check your watch before you start your search. Three minutes go by quickly. The disadvantage, of course, is that you may lose a few more golf balls. However, one nice advantage is that it may speed up the pace of play on the course.
All of the new rules intend to help players focus on the spirit of the game while promoting a faster, and more fun pace of play. Why not put them to the test here at Harbor Club? Our distinctive, Weiskopf-Morrish designed course was just awarded by Golfweek as one of the top five courses to play in Georgia. Indulge in amazing golf. Book your tee time today.