Golf Rules Update 2019

The actual update of the rules of golf, applicable since January 1, 2019, is the largest update of its kind since over 30 years. Its objective is to simplifay and to speed up the game.

General rules

Searching Time: generally reduced from 5 to 3 minutes.

Ball moving during search: You may replace the ball in the position it was without penalty.

Ball embedded or plugged in the ground: Relief on all surfaces on the course, not only on the fairway (excluded bunkers and hazards).

Dropping a ball:

  • Club length is now defined as the length of the longest club in the bag except the putter, not to be chosen by the player.
  • Dropping is now done from the knee height, no longer from the shoulder height.

Hitting yourself or your equipment with the ball: no longer a penalty when happening by accident.

Double hit of a shot: no longer a penalty when happening by accident.

On the Green

Leave the flag in when putting: You are allowed to optionally putt and hit the flagstick without penalty.

Ball being wedged between the flag and the edge of the hole is considered “in”: If the ball is wedged between the flagstick and the edge of the hole, with any part of the ball below the hole top edge, it is considered holed, and the player can now pick it up. (Previously the flag had to be removed for the ball to drop for it to be considered holed.)

Aiming the club along your stance for alignment purposes when setting up for a shot: no longer allowed.

Hitting from the wrong green: You are no longer allowed to take stance on the wrong green when hitting the ball. You now may take relief completely with your stance and drop from there within 1 club length.

Moving the ball when putting it back: You no longer have to play it from the new place, simply put the ball back again, without penalty.

Moving the ball with your body or club: No matter the reason, you put the ball back to its original position, without penalty.

Caddies helping players to line up putts: no longer allowed.

Water hazards

Definition: Water hazards are now called red or yellow hazards and do not have to include water, thus allowing golf courses to freely choose where they want to setup hazard areas. Players are allowed to take a sideways drop out from the hazards, and thus speed up the game.

Touching the ground or water in penalty areas: now permitted without penalty.


Grounding the club in a bunker:

  • You are allowed to rake in the bunker as long as it’s not in line of play.
  • You are allowed to accidentally ground the club, but not on purpose or trying to alter the lie to your advantage.
  •  You may also lean on your club in a bunker, as you might do if you are waiting to play your shot.

Unplayable ball in bunker (additional option): You can drop the ball in line of play, behind and outside the bunker, but with a two-shot penalty.

Bunkers & Hazards

Loose impediments in hazards and bunkers:  Now allowed to remove.  Attention: if the ball moves while removing loose impediments, you still get a penalty of one stroke, and the ball must be replaced back to where it was.

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