The USGA and the R&A unveiled new golfing rules early this year after extensive consultation and review that included requests for feedback and consideration from the global golfing community. The new rules can be viewed here.
While a big part of the rules remains unchanged in the final list, several important changes have been made to meet the proposals that were submitted in 2012. Here is an informative post on some of the new changes:
1. Drop the ball from the knee height and NOT shoulder height. This is to ensure simplicity and consistency during the dropping process. It also helps preserve the randomness of your drop.
2. Time to search has been reduced to 3 minutes and NOT 5 minutes
3. Use the longest club you have in the bag to measure the area you need to drop in. This rule doesn’t apply for a putter
4. If you are searching for your ball and you accidentally move it, you are allowed it without being penalized
5. A double hit can no longer be penalized – it just counts as a single stroke
6. You can drop and play from the relief area
7. There is no penalty if the ball accidentally your equipment or your body after a stroke
8. If you chose to leave the ball in the hole, no penalty will be given if your ball hits the flagstick
9. Once you start taking your stance, you cannot have any of your partners or caddie standing behind
10. You should take no more than 40 seconds to create a stroke. You should play quicker than that.
11. You are allowed to move any loose impediments in bunkers
12. Unless you are 95% or more certain that your ball is within the penalty area, you can’t take relief from the penalty area
13. While in the bunkers, you can’t touch the sand behind or in front of the ball using your club while taking practice swings or backswing.