The original rules of golf were written in the 1700s but were disputed and changed many times over the years. It wasn’t until 1952 that a universal set of rules was developed and, since then, the rules have been set, agreed upon, and practiced. The rules did change once again in 1984 but had stayed the same up until now.

Effective on January 1st, 2019, the rules of golf changed again for the first time in nearly 35 years. These rules may take many by surprise, and it is best to know about them before hitting the golf course this year.

Summary of the New Golf Rules, Effective January 1, 2019

Golfers No Longer Have to Remove The Flagstick
In the past, golfers were required to have the flagstick removed from the hole while putting their ball. If the ball hit the flagpole, the golfer was forced to count a penalty stroke.

This well-known rule has changed, however. Now, the flagstick may remain in the hole the entire time. There is also no longer a penalty if a ball hits the flagstick.

The Penalty Areas Have Changed
Instead of separately naming penalty areas (such as water hazards), they are now all defined under the same category. The penalty areas will be marked by red or yellow lines and stakes.

Yellow means that a golfer has to go back to the place where they made their shot from. They could also choose to go straight back from the hole and drop their ball along that line, without moving any closer to the hole.

Red means that they can measure two club lengths away from the hazard (no closer to the hole) and then drop the ball. With any of these methods, there will be a penalty stroke that needs to be counted.

The Ball Should Be Dropped From Knee Level
In the past, a golfer was supposed to drop the ball from shoulder height. This sometimes caused the ball to roll quite a ways away. The new rules require that the ball should be dropped from knee level, instead.

Change In The Way Out Of Bounds Or Lost Balls Are Handled
With the old rules, a golfer had to go back to the place that they originally shot from when the ball went out of bounds. Now, players are given the option of dropping the ball on the nearest spot of the fairway. Either choice still requires a penalty.

Final Thoughts On What You Need To Know About The New Golf Rules
While the rules of golf have stayed the same for many years, new rules were implemented at the beginning of 2019. These rules were changed to speed up play and to eliminate any confusion in the old rules. As long as golfers are aware of the major changes to the rules, they will be ready to play their first round of golf this year.