Updates have been made constantly to the Rules of Golf over the years, but usually they are minor and limited in scope. The new Rules that took effect on Jan. 1, 2019, however, were much more significant. The entire code was updated, rewritten, and reorganized, with many changes to procedures and outcomes. Because of the scope of these changes, the USGA sent Rules of Golf staff representatives to various tournaments to support the professional tours as they conducted their first events under the new Rules.
Several Rule changes have garnered attention in the media, but what changes are professional golfers asking about the most behind the scenes? USGA Rules staff members who visited the various tours and talked with players provide insights below.
PGA Tour – Joe Foley
Several USGA Rules team members traveled to PGA Tour stops in early 2019 to discuss the major changes to the Rules with players and officials. At the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Sony Open, Desert Classic, Farmers Insurance Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open, players and caddies peppered USGA staff members with questions both in public and private forums, with a particular focus on the new dropping and relief procedures, caddie alignment prohibitions and changes to the flagstick rule. The open dialogues allowed for players to fully understand the “why” behind the changes, which led to more understanding and support for the initiative. These opportunities also enabled the USGA to directly engage with PGA Tour officials as the professional game worked through some complex rulings and situations. Discussions ultimately led to further clarifications to some of the new Rules – particularly around Rule 10.2b(4), the caddie alignment Rule – which reflects the extensive collaboration between the game’s top organizations today.