New Rules, Good Change?

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Today I joined an LPGA phone seminar about the new rules coming into effect like now.

The main purpose of these rule changes is to speed up golf, and I think the majority fo them all will do speed up the game. However, I still think they missed a couple no brainers (to me) that I hope it can be added to the list in the upcoming years. But then I think, will the USGA and R&A add more to the list?

I want to share some of the things I learned today on the phone call, that will be a major change for next year.

MORE DRASTIC ONES:

Overall, the changes were for the better and no brainers. Most of them are going to be easy to adapt to but there is one in particular that I think some players are going to have a hard time adjusting to. Specially because the new ruling is a drastic change and they are not cutting any slack.

- CADDY ALIGNMENT: Starting this year, and in hopes to make an even fair game for all players in the field, players are NOT to be assisted by their caddies in their alignment. To me, this is the most drastic one, specially because if you fail to do so, you get a 2 stroke penalty. And the rule has no bending. Today we were advised that caddies are not allowed to even stay behind your line to help you with alignment on practice swings. Previous to hitting the shot, you and your caddy can stay behind your ball to select your line, but the second you start to walk to set up to your ball, your caddy must step aside out of your way.

I honestly think there is going to be trouble here. Players are going to call out on each other, specially those fast players that know who the slow players are. This rule definitely speeds up the game of golf, and before this, the fast player didn’t truly have anything playing to their advantage to blame slow players. Now they do. And I hope I am wrong, but I honestly believe, those players who always had someone aligning them up for every shot, THEY ARE GOING TO STRUGGLE.

Not that they don’t know how to align themselves, but I think for most of them, it because part of their routine.

- PUTTING WITH FLAGSTICK: This new rule definitely created some controversy on the PGA with Brayson. And I can understand why. The rule was made to sped up the game, so that now players could run up to tap in a sandy or up and down without the hassle of having your caddy take the flag out. But Bryson took it to another level.

I have had many of you guys ask me whether or not I would putt with the flagstick. And all I can say is that I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t. The majority of the times when I play practice rounds by my self, I can go all 18 holes without taking the flag out. This is just pure laziness, but it truly doesn’t bother me to put with it in. However, I must say, being Bryson the smart guy he is, there’s got to be a reason why he does it. And I can see how putting with the flagstick could benefit those linear putter players. I am not a linear putter myself, but if I were and if I knew that it would help me visualize the center of the whole better; I would most surely put with it in.

- REPAIR DAMAGE ON PUTTING GREEN: about time. I have always been a big believer in that golf is already a very difficult sport to have silly rules make it even more challenging. When we couldn’t fix spikes or indentations on the green, your tee time played a huge role on your putting score. Not only the tee times, but the lucky draw of who you had playing in front of you, could also have a huge impact on how comfortable you were going to feel on the greens. Not anymore. I have yet to see how players are going to play this new rule out, because it could get really annoying to find that player who taps everything down to the point of making a rail from her ball to the hole. LOL. I guess that wouldn’t be allowed but still, you got what I mean.

So the new rule says that the player can fix any kind of damage (spike marks, ball-marks, indentations from club or flagstick) with golf specific equipment only. We are NOT permitted to fix aeration holes, natural wear of the hole or natural surface imperfections.

- TOUCH LINE OF PLAY: No more Oopsies! anymore! You and your caddy can touch your line of play with the club and flagstick. I think it’s cool. Obviously you are going to be very careful as to not cause any indentation to the green since you would be screwing yourself up, and at the same time, you can remain chill your caddy is not going to screw YOU up over this. Its a nicer way of being able to truly focus on that tiny little spot where you have to roll your ball.

- HAZARDS GAME CHANGER : This is awesome. I love some of these new rules.

1. Now you are allowed to remove leaves, rocks, a soda cans (for some reason, they always use this example) from the hazard. You are also allowed to remove loose impediments from the bunkers.

2. Whats even more BOMB is that PRACTICE SWINGS ARE OK inside the hazard as well. This is going to be really hard to accept in your first event out. You are going to be like: is it really allowed or are you playing with me? So you are allowed to make practice swings and also you dont need to be careful whether you break gras or not. It is also allowed to break grass during your practice swing.

3. But the best of all these new rules is that you can GROUND your club in the hazard!!! I guess if you can ground your club, your caddy can also ground your golf bag in the hazard right? It is also important to mention that you are also allowed to ground your club in the bunker as long as it is not in front or behind your golf ball. This means we can all do club slams’ shenanigans after a bad bunker shot.

I want to touch upon some of the other changes that are not that drastic to me but still really cool.

- 3 MIN BALL SEARCH: No more 5 min ball search. I guess it is what it is, if you screw up from the tee be ready to hit another one just in case. There is something important to mention about the new rules when searching your ball and is that now you are not penalized if you, your caddy, playing competitors or fans touch your ball when being searched. The new rule states that unintentional ball moves are not penalized. If you someone causes the ball to move, you replace it.

- DOUBLE-HIT: No penalty on double-hits shots. Goes along the lines of unintentional ball move. When you double hit it (which I have never done, actually) you have no intention or whatsoever to hit it twice. So the rule is actually protecting you for once.

- NO ANNOUNCEMENT TP IDENTIFY BALL: I actually got penalized in a major many years ago for this rule. It was soaking wet and we were lifting the ball in fairways and roughs all morning because the course was so soft and wet, that golf balls were plugging constantly. In efforts of making things smoother, since we were playing very slow, I marked my ball on the rough to identify where my ball was embedded or not. The player came back after I hit it to let me know I never announced I was going to lift my ball and so I was given one or two penalty strokes (cant remember).

- CADDY CAN LIFT, CLEAN + PLACE YOUR BALL: Simple. Easy. Convenient.

- UNPLAYABLE IN THE BUNKER: now you have the option to drop it out of the bunker with a 2 stroke of penalty. It sucks, but it could be very beneficial for amateur golf. Who am I kidding, for us too!

- RED HAZARD EQUAL-DISTANCE OPPOSITE: before, if you hit your ball in lateral hazard, you had the option to find relief on the opposite side of the water, equality distance form where you are. However, that rule disappears in 2019. LPGA might added certain weeks as a local rule.

- NEW DROP CAZE: by now, we are all aware of the new way of dropping knee-high. I haven’t done so just yet, but I guess I will need to practice before my first tourney out. Yikes.

So, what is your favorite and least favorite rule change? I would love to hear from all fo you, that way you can help me touch on some other rule changes I didn’t mention here today.