It’s 2019 and the new USGA golf rules changes are here. Everyone has their take on the changes, and now that we’ve had a few professional tournaments to watch the rules play out, here are a few that have stuck out to me:
Keeping The Flagstick In
Personally, I am all in on this rule. I think it’s a great way to speed up play for your average everyday round. Keep that pin in on first putts, and once everyone gets closer (15 ft or so), pull it. Competitive junior/college rounds can typically last 5 hours or more, and we all have heard the complaints from the pros that rounds are taking too long. Not having to worry about having to go pull the pin on a 45 footer while your competitors are scrambling around the green will be helpful for not only time, but visually as well.
I get that it really just doesn’t look right burying a 4 footer with the flag in, but according to facts and testing, having the pin in is an added benefit. So if the rules allow you to do it, and it helps you, then you might as well give it a go! It will be interesting as the professional season wears on if more and more pros will keep the pin in, or continue to leave it out.
Ball Drop From Knee Height
This one is interesting, and I don’t know that I’m all for it. If you’ve watched professional golf recently, then you’ve noticed how uncomfortable pros look doing this. I think the rule had plenty of good intentions to allow the ball to come to rest faster/easier, but I think there were better options. Why not just let the ball drop below shoulder height, however you may choose to drop it? I feel that dropping from knee height is just awkward, and at that point why don’t you just allow the ball to be placed, or dropped from an inch above the surface? Those questions loom large, but this is one of the new rules that I believe will be hardest to adapt to.
Fixing Spike Marks On The Green
This seems pretty logical, right? Why punish golfers behind you just because Joe in the group ahead is dragging his feet all over the greens. We’ve been able to fix ball marks on the greens in the past, so nice to have this rule catch up to the times as well. It will be interesting to see pros that miss a 3 footer not immediately look for a spike mark to blame for their miss!
Three Minute Ball Searches
This is a tough one. You obviously want to speed up play and make things faster, but that 3 minutes will go real quick. Professional golf is a little different as they have volunteers everywhere to help, but I do think this hurts amateur play where they don’t have the ability to see balls land from the tee, or approach, and that extra time adds up. We’ve all had those situations where we find a ball after what feels like hours of searching, but this new rule really makes it vital and important to keep eyes on the ball all the way through the air till its landing. This new rule may make you rethink the quick club twirl and tee pickup! Keep those eyes on the ball.
Moving Loose Impediments In Hazards
This is great. We’ve all seen a big rock laying behind our ball in a bunker and now you have the ability to move it no problem. Anything to help keep those new wedges shiny and looking brand new!
Everyone will have a different take on these rules, and some will be harder to get adjusted to than others. I’m excited about the future of golf, as it seems that our leaders are starting to open their minds a to newer things. Looking forward to getting out on the course come spring to try some of the new rules out!