The twelve Days of Golfmas | FairWeather Golf Blog

The Twelve Days of Golfmas

Over the next twelve days we will look at some of the changes to Golf Rules after the R&A and the USGA finalised golf’s new Rules this month after an extensive review that included a request for feedback from the global golf community on the proposed changes.

The process to modernise the Rules began in 2012 and was initiated to ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply for all golfers and to make the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.

So, what have the R&A got in store for you all for next year.

On the first day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... dropping from the knee.

When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).

Whsilt the concept seems pretty simple in that you now drop your ball from knee height as opposed to shoulder height.  Knee height means the height from the ground to your knee when in a standing position, No doubt many players will still be dropping their ball from shoulder height, but this is no longer the correct way to drop a ball. The player must drop from KNEE HEIGHT in order for a correct drop.

Finally, should the player play a ball that is not dropped correctly, there is a one-stroke penalty if the ball was played inside the relief area, and a two-stroke penalty if the ball was played outside the relief area (or lose of hole in match play).

Twelve Days of Golfmas

On the second day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... no penalty.

There will be no penalty stroke if a ball played from the green strikes the flagstick in the hole.

A number of factors have contributed to this change, not least the potential to speed up play and reduce wear and tear around the hole, especially during the off-season.

Being able to putt to an unattended flagstick should also put an end to that slightly awkward scenario when your opponent or fellow competitor is attending the flagstick for you and accidentally allows your ball to strike it, resulting in you incurring a penalty.

Tiger Woods

On the third day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... another no penalty.

We are now 3 days into our twelve days of Golfmas. As we continue to countdown some of the major changes to golfing rules for 2019.

Tiger Woods created a controversy at Albany Golf Club when video evidence showed he double-hit a golf ball from under a bush during the second round of his 18-man year-ending event. However, now with the rule change in January. There will be no penalty for striking the ball twice.

For those of us who think about trying to stretch rules and norms to an absolute extreme, that doesn't mean that they can essentially chip and volley the ball. Maybe we should ask Matt to give this a try later on this week.

Golf Rules

On the fourth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... no more trudging back to the tee.

A new local rule is available that would allow golfers to drop in the vicinity of where their ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty. Therefore rather than heading back to the tee following to search for a clearly lost ball. You can walk yourself towards the fairway drop your ball down and play on, taking shot 4 in the process.

However, remember that this is a local rule and may not be adopted by all club. So check with your committee if they intend to utilise it. Finally, if you're an elite amateur or professional you do not need to worry as it will not apply to you.

On the fifth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... 2 less minutes.

Currently you are allowed five minutes to search for your ball before it must be deemed lost and you go back to play again under penalty of stroke and distance. However, from January you are only allowed 3 minutes before you must play another shot under penalty.

Christmas Golf

On the sixth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... less penalties.

Golfers can now touch the ground with their club in a hazard and can move loose impediments in a hazard without penalty. Meaning if you are standing mulling over your next shot in a bunker, there is now no penalty for leaning on your club, provided you are away from the ball. You still cannot ground your club when playing a bunker shot. In addition, an unplayable lie may be taken in a bunker, with a drop out for two strokes.

Golf Lessons Embedded Ball

On the seventh day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... relief from embedded balls.

Most golfers have experienced the dreaded embedded ball. Whilst majority of clubs allowed relief during the winter on the short stuff, if you're ball became embedded in the rough you were forced to give it your best shot, potentially losing shot after shot in the process.

You may take relief if your ball is embedded anywhere (except in sand) in the general area (which is the new term for “through the green”), except where a Local Rule restricts relief to the fairway or similar areas (this reverses the default position in the current Rules).

On the eighth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... the chance to replace your ball.

The good news is that if you now accidentally move your ball whilst searching for it. You can replace it without penalty. The ball will always be replaced; if the exact spot is not known, the player will replace the ball on the estimated original spot (including on, under or against any attached natural or man-made objects which the ball had been at rest under or against). However, it is not such a plain sale. As opposed to dropping the ball and thus getting yourself a better lie, you will replace the ball in the same position and in doing so face the challenge of playing from that difficult spot where the ball had come to rest.

On the ninth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... the longest club in your bag.

Now when taking relief you can measure the distance by using the longest club in your bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths. So, potentially if you are a bit taller you may gain yourself an advantage in this situation. Although, you have less of an advantage when dropping it as your knee is higher from the ground.

Golf Lessons Ascot

On the tenth day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... repairing of the green

You will also be able to repair wider damage, including shoe damage (spike marks), animal damage and indentations made by a club or flagstick. This should reduce the need for deliberations about what has caused any damage. It should also eliminate that slight tension between not being allowed to tap down spike marks before you putt, but being encouraged to do so afterwards, thus benefiting everyone but yourself!

On the eleventh day of Golfmas the R&A gave to me.... a final no penalty

Have you ever managed to hit yourself or your equipment after taking a stroke? Well if you do that now rather than an extra penalty you will only suffer the embarrassment of managing to hit yourself with your own ball.

And, Finally, On the twelfth day of Golfman the R&A gave to me.... ready golf!

Now, a lot of us mortal amateurs already play in this way. You get to your ball, you hit your shot, you move on. However, now the R&A have relaxed the etiquette and are actively encouraging ready golf. Another change aimed at speeding up the play and increasing the enjoyment.

So what do you think? 

Do you think there are many other outdated rules that could do with a change. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page or by emailing

Remember, this winter is the best time to refinine your swing ready for spring. Don't leave it until 2019 as any progress made this summer may be long forgotten when you dust of your clubs again, drop Reeves an email on Don't forget about our Christmas Vouchers now available.