Rules of Golf

Key 2019 Rule Changes

In 2019 there were some major changes made to the rules of golf. Below are 5 examples of rules that might affect how you score your next round; 


Repairing Damage on Putting Green 

Previous Rule: Rule 16-1c allowed only limited repair of damage on the putting green: 

  • A player may repair any old hole plug or ball-mark on the green on his or her line of play, whether the ball is on or off the putting green (this is an exception to Rule 13-2). 

  •  But a player must not repair any other damage on the green (such as spike marks, animal damage, etc.) if it might assist in his or her subsequent play of the hole.  

2019 Rule Change: Rule 13.1c(2) allows repair of almost any damage on the green:  

  • “Damage on the putting green” will be defined to include all types of damage (such as ball-marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc.), except aeration holes, natural surface imperfections or natural wear of the hole. 

  • The player is allowed to repair damage only with his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment and must not unreasonably delay play 


Ball Accidentally Struck Multiple Times During Stroke 

Previous Rule: If a player accidentally strikes his or her ball two or more times when making a single stroke:  

  • The player gets a one-stroke penalty in addition to the stroke that was made, regardless of the number of times the ball is struck.  

  • The ball is played as it lies.  

2019 Rule Change: Under Rule 10.1a, if the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once during a single stroke: 

  • There will be no penalty and the ball will be played as it lies. 

  •  If the player deliberately strikes the ball more than once while it is in motion, in addition to counting the stroke, he or she will also get the general penalty under Rule 11.3 for deliberately deflecting a ball in motion 


Time for Search Before Ball is Lost 

Previous Rule: If a player’s ball is not found within 5 minutes after the player or his or her caddie began searching for it:  

  • The ball is treated as “lost”, and  

  •  The player gets a one-stroke penalty and must play another ball from the spot of the previous stroke (that is, must play under penalty of stroke and distance). (Definition of “Lost Ball”; Rule 27-1c.)  

2019 Rule Change: Under Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. 


Maximum Score” Form of Stroke Play 

Previous Rulerecognize two main forms of stroke play:  

  • The basic form of stroke play where a player must hole out at every hole, or else is disqualified (Rule 3), and  

  •  The Stableford form of play where a point scoring system is used and a player who scores two or more than the fixed score or does not finish the hole simply gets zero points for that hole (Rule 32).  

2019 Rule Change: “Maximum Score” will be a new, additional form of stroke play:  

  • A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 6, 8, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey). 

  •  A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) will not be disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole. 

Touching Line of Play on Putting Green 

Previous Rule: Under Rule 16-1a, when a player’s ball is on the putting green:  

  • The player is generally prohibited from touching his or her line of putt.  

  •  But there are seven exceptions (such as when removing loose impediments or movable obstructions, when lifting or replacing a ball, when repairing ball marks, etc.).  

2019 Rule Change: The prohibition of touching the line of play on the putting green was eliminated: 

  • There is no longer be a penalty for merely touching the line of play on the putting green (the term “line of play” will apply everywhere on the course including the putting green, and the term “line of putt” will no longer be used).  

  •  But the player will still be subject to the prohibition on improving his or her line of play on the putting green (see Rule 8.1a, as limited by 8.1b). 


For a detailed outline on all the 2019 rules of golf changes and explanations for why the changes were made visit or