2012 Changes to Rules of Golf

I stumbled across a serious of videos on the Golf Canada website the other day and thought I should share them. I suspect most of the 2012 rules changes will effect very few of us non professionals, with the exception of some of the Amateur Status rules.

Before the videos, here are what the rules changes are (from Golf Canada):

Addressing the Ball

The Definition is amended so that a player has addressed the ball simply by grounding his club immediately in front of or behind the ball, regardless of whether or not he has taken his stance. Therefore, the Rules generally no longer provide for a player addressing the ball in a hazard. (See also related change to Rule 18-2b)

Rule 1-2. Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions

The Rule is amended to establish more clearly that, if a player intentionally takes an action to influence the movement of a ball or to alter physical conditions affecting the playing of a hole in a way that is not permitted bythe Rules, Rule 1-2 applies only when the action is not already covered in another Rule. For example, a player improving the lie of his ball is in breach of Rule 13-2 and therefore that Rule would apply, whereas a player intentionally improving the lie of a fellow-competitor’s ball is not a situation covered by Rule 13-2 and, therefore, is governed by Rule 1-2.

Rule 6-3a. Time of Starting

Rule 6-3a is amended to provide that the penalty for starting late, but within five minutes of the starting time, is reduced from disqualification to loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Previously this penalty reduction could be introduced as a condition of competition.

Rule 12-1. Seeing Ball; Searching for Ball

Rule 12-1 is reformatted for clarity. In addition, it is amended to (i) permit aplayer to search for his ball anywhere on the course when it may becovered by sand and to clarify that there is no penalty if the ball is moved.

Principal Changes 7

in these circumstances, and (ii) apply a penalty of one stroke under Rule18-2a if a player moves his ball in a hazard when searching for it when it is believed to be covered by loose impediments.

Rule 13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 is amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 is not breached.

Rule 18-2b. Ball Moving After Address

A new Exception is added that exonerates the player from penalty if his ball moves after it has been addressed when it is known or virtually certain that he did not cause the ball to move. For example, if it is a gust of wind that move sthe ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.

Rule 19-1. Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped; By Outside Agency

The note is expanded to prescribe the various outcomes when a ball inmotion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency.

Rule 20-7c. Playing from Wrong Place; Stroke Play

Note 3 is amended so that if a player is to be penalised for playing from awrong place, in most cases the penalty will be limited to two strokes, even ifanother Rule has been breached prior to his making the stroke.

Appendix IV

A new Appendix is added to prescribe general regulations for the design of devices and other equipment, such as tees, gloves and distance measuring devices.

For some videos on the 2012 Rule Changes: http://www.golfcanada.ca/blogs/rcga-rules-of-golf/article7161.ece

For some videos on the 2012 changes to Amateur Status: http://www.golfcanada.ca/blogs/rcga-rules-of-golf/article7741.ece

In addition to the above changes Golf Canada has also made an amendment to the equitable stroke formula for handicap index’s.

The current system looks like this:

Course handicap 0 or plus: maximum one over par (bogey)
Course handicap 1-18: maximum two over par (double bogey)
Course handicap 19-32: maximum three over par (triple bogey)

Course handicap 33 and over: maximum four over par (quadruple bogey) 

The new system, to take effect March 2012, will look like this:

Handicaps 9 or less: Maximum double bogey
Handicaps 10-19: Maximum score of seven, no matter what par is on that particular hole
Handicaps 20-29: Maximum score of eight
Handicaps 30-39: Maximum score of nine
Handicaps 40 and over: Maximum score of 10

For me, the change to equitable stroke isn’t going to make a difference. However, in my opinion, the change is going to make it harder for a low double digit handicap to get over that hump into the single digits. I will reserve judgement on the change until I see it in action next summer.


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