Golf’s Governing Bodies Announce Rules Changes For 2023

Modifications for players with disabilities

The current Rules make several accommodations for players with disabilities. (A blind player, for example, can have an aide help with marking and alignment). But these are treated as local rules that committees can enact if they wish. As of Jan. 1, the modifications will become part of the Rules, meaning that they will always be in effect for all players with disabilities covered in the guidelines. No need to have a local committee adopt them.

No penalty if you don’t write your handicap on your scorecard. 

Long gone are the days when scores were kept exclusively with pencil and paper. The rise of scorekeeping apps and other technology has changed all that. In recognition of the new reality, players will no longer be penalized for failing to put their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. It will be up to the committee overseeing the play to ensure the accuracy of handicaps and their application.

Go ahead and replace that damaged club

Crack your driver with your DeChambeau-like swing speed? No problem. As of Jan. 1, you’ll be allowed to replace it, or any other club that you damage during a round. There’s just one caveat. The damage must be inadvertent. If you shatter your driver in anger or snap your putter across your knee, you’re out of luck. Temper, temper, people. The governing bodies are trying to help you. But you also need to help yourself. 

More forgiveness for a ball moved by natural forces

At the 2019 Waste Management Open, Rickie Fowler made a bizarre triple bogey after a ball he’d dropped on a bank by the green rolled back into the water as he was walking up to survey his next shot. Rules are rules. And under the guidelines as they’re currently written, those are the breaks: A ball that moves due to natural forces is played as it lies (except on the green, where it is replaced). If it happens to lie in the water or out of bounds, tough luck. The player’s only option is to take stroke-and-distance relief. Come Jan. 1, that rule will change. Under a new exception, a ball that rolls to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds will be put back where it was before natural forces moved it. No penalty.

Simpler procedure for back-on-line relief

When you knock a ball into a penalty area or an unplayable spot, the drop you take is known as back-on-line relief. And the procedure for it can get complicated and time-consuming. If, for example, you drop the ball as it rolls closer to the hole, you have to drop it again. Come Jan. 1, the procedure will be more forgiving. Your ball merely must come to rest within one club-length of where you drop it, even if it is one club-length closer to the hole.

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