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Rickie Fowler gets a ruling from PGA rules official during The Honda Classic

Old Game, New Rule, Time for Change The USGA and The R&A have unveiled a preview of proposed new Rules of Golf, as part of a joint initiative to modernize the Rules and make them easier to understand and apply. Louie Chan talks to Roy Lee about his view on the changes and impacts. Louie Chan: Does the proposed new Rules of Golf look easier to understand and apply to you in general? Roy Lee: The main purpose is to make the Rules easier to understand in a less formal tone so that it does not confuse and scare people away. LC: Out of the 24 proposed new Rules, which one or more are most drastic to you? And why? RL: Rule 14.3 Dropping Ball in Relief Area. This radically simplifies the dropping of a ball and eliminates the confusing 7 re-drop situations that are in the current rules under Rule 20-2c. LC: Do you have comment and feedback on any specific new Rules? Do you disagree on any specific new Rules? RL: Personally, I am a bit concerned with the 20 inches and 80 inches defining the

relief area instead of the 1 or 2 club lengths used now. This is too precise and it’s even more confusing in countries using the metric system as it becomes 50.8 centimeters and 203.2 centimeters respectively. LC: How would you foresee the game would change when the new Rules take effect in 2019? RL: By simplifying the rules, I look forward to people enjoying the game more and improve the speed of play. AFP/Getty Images; Roy Lee, Golf Travel Photographer

Roy qualified as a R&A Level 3 officials in St Andrews in 2010. He has been actively refereeing in HKGA amateur tournaments as well as the professional HK Ladies Open and UBS HK Open. Through his work at Garden Farm Golf Centre, he created the Golf Rules Guru Facebook page to share his refereeing experiences and educate more people on the Rules of Golf.

LC: Will the new Rules make rules officials’ job easier in the future? RL: We always joke that we will be out of a job in 2019! But our jobs have always been to help the golfer with situations regarding the rules so simplifying and having less controversy is no doubt good for the game. This applies to both professional tournaments as well as amateur events CONTINUED ON PAGE 78...





Rules official at the Masters


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PROPOSED RULE CHANGES: ELIMINATION OR REDUCTION OF “BALL MOVED” PENALTIES: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.  RELAXED PUTTING GREEN RULES: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.  RELAXED RULES FOR “PENALTY AREAS” (CURRENTLY CALLED “WATER HAZARDS”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.

AFP/Getty images

RELAXED BUNKER RULES: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty. Relying on player integrity: A PLAYER’S “REASONABLE JUDGMENT” WHEN estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance



will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged. PACE-OF-PLAY SUPPORT: Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play. SIMPLIFIED WAY OF TAKING RELIEF: A new procedure for taking relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from a specific relief area; relaxed procedures for dropping a ball, allowing the ball to be dropped from just above the ground or any growing thing or other object on the ground. The online release of the preview begins a six-month feedback and evaluation period during which all golfers worldwide can learn about the proposed changes and provide input before they are finalized in 2018 and take effect January 1, 2019. Golfers are encouraged to review the proposed changes and submit feedback online via worldwide survey technology that can be accessed at  or  from now until August 31, 2017.  The feedback will be reviewed by the USGA and The R&A in establishing the approved final version of golf’s new Rules. These are due to be released in mid-2018 ahead of a January 1, 2019 implementation. Social media fans can also follow the discussion using #GolfRules2019.