Rules and Rants

The R&A and USGA announce decision to revise golf ball testing conditions beginning 2028

St Andrews, Scotland and Liberty Corner, NJ, USA – The R&A and USGA will update the testing conditions used for golf ball conformance under the Overall Distance Standard (ODS), which will take effect from January 2028. The decision aims to reduce the impact increased hitting distances have on golf’s long-term sustainability while minimizing the impact on the recreational game.

The revised ball testing conditions will be as follows: 125-mph clubhead speed (equivalent to 183 mph ball speed); spin rate of 2220 rpm and launch angle of 11 degrees. The current conditions, which were established 20 years ago, are set at 120 mph (equivalent to 176 mph ball speed), 2520 rpm with a 10-degree launch angle.

The revised conditions are based on analysis of data from the worldwide tours and the game over several years and are intended to ensure that the ODS (whose limit will remain unchanged at 317 yards with a 3-yard tolerance) continues to represent the ability of the game’s longest hitters. An analysis of ball speeds among golf’s longest hitters in 2023 shows that the fastest ten players had an average ball speed of 186 mph, while the average ball speed of the fastest 25 was 183.4 mph (the very fastest averaged 190 mph).

The longest hitters are expected to see a reduction of as much as 13-15 yards in drive distance. Average professional tour and elite male players are expected to see a reduction of 9-11 yards, with a 5-7-yard reduction for an average LET or LPGA player.

The change in testing speed is expected to have a minimal distance impact, 5 yards or less, for most recreational golfers. Research shows an average swing speed of 93 mph for male golfers and 72 mph for female players.

Existing balls approved for conformance in 2027 may continue to be used by recreational golfers until January 2030 to give golfers, manufacturers and retailers additional time to adjust. These decisions are in line with the commitments made by the governing bodies at the project’s inception.

A significant portion of golf ball models that are currently in the market – and more than 30 percent of all golf ball models submitted for conformance across the game – are expected to remain conforming after these changes are applied.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “We are convinced that this decision is one of the key ways of achieving a sustainable future for golf, protecting the integrity of the game and meeting our environmental responsibilities. The measure we are taking has been carefully considered and calibrated while maintaining the ‘one game’ ethos deemed to be so important to the golf industry. Importantly, it also keeps the impact on recreational golfers to an absolute minimum. We are acting now because we want to ensure that future generations can enjoy the unique challenge of golf as much as we do.”

“Governance is hard. And while thousands will claim that we did too much, there will be just as many who said we didn’t do enough to protect the game long-term,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “But from the very beginning, we’ve been driven to do what is right for the game, without bias. As we’ve said, doing nothing is not an option – and we would be failing in our responsibility to protect the game’s future if we didn’t take appropriate action now.”

The Notice of Decision follows the most thorough and comprehensive examination of the issue in the game’s history through the Distance Insights project, which was launched in 2018 and gathered data, shared research and solicited feedback from golf course owners, players, and stakeholders across the game. Data provided by the seven major worldwide tours has also been analysed by the governing bodies, who have published Annual Driving Distance Reports every year since 2015.

The reports followed the governing bodies’ joint Conclusions from the Distance Insights Project: Implication of Hitting Distance in Golf, which shared the reasons why addressing the continuing trend of hitting distance increases and subsequent course lengthening is critical to the game’s long-term sustainability.

All golf ball and club manufacturers were advised of the decision on Tuesday and were given full technical details and an implementation timeline. The Notice of Decision takes into account the extensive research and feedback received from manufacturers and other industry stakeholders throughout the six-year process and following multiple Areas of Interest and proposals starting in 2021 as part of the Equipment Rulemaking process.

A copy of the letter and technical documents can be found at www.RandA.org/distance-insights.

The extensive feedback received showed worldwide sentiment that the retention of a single set of playing rules and equipment standards is critically important to the sport and should apply across the game. Feedback from manufacturers resulted in the timeline being extended to 2028 to allow more time for innovation and production of new products for elite and recreational players.

In addition to the new ball-testing conditions, the governing bodies will:

The R&A and the USGA are guided by an overarching principle to continue to preserve the fundamental elements of golf – protecting the integrity of golf courses, including their overall length, and ensuring that a variety of skills are needed to be successful.

Longer golf courses require additional resources such as water, the cost of renovating or moving elements like tees and bunkers continues to rise and other long-term impacts have been identified as a result of increased distance. The governing bodies believe that if the sport is to enjoy a sustainable long-term future then these economic and environmental impacts have to be kept under control.

The Overall Distance Standard was first introduced in 1976 and has been updated on three previous occasions (1980, 2002 and 2004). This is the first time that test speeds have been updated since 2004, when the current standard was set based on the longest hitters at that time.

Rules and Rants

The USGA and The R&A announce proposal to introduce Model Local Rule option for golf balls used in elite competitions

(Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J., USA AND ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (March 14, 2023) – The USGA and The R&A have proposed a Model Local Rule (MLR) that gives competition organizers the option to require use of golf balls that are tested under modified launch conditions to address the impacts of hitting distance in golf.  

The MLR is intended for use only in elite competitions and, if adopted, will have no impact on recreational golf. 

The proposal notice, which can be found here, was sent to golf equipment manufacturers on March 13, following the Equipment Rulemaking Procedures established by the governing bodies in 2011. Manufacturers and golf stakeholders can provide feedback until Aug. 14, 2023. If adopted, the proposal would take effect on Jan 1, 2026.  

Golf balls that conform to the MLR must not exceed the current Overall Distance Standard (ODS) limit of 317 yards (plus 3 yards tolerance) at modified Actual Launch Conditions (ALC) with a clubhead speed of 127 mph and based on a calibration setup of 11 degrees and 37 revolutions per second (2,220 rpm) as part of this proposal.  

All other balls, including those typically used by recreational golfers with lower swing speeds, would continue to be tested using the existing ALC values (120 mph, and a calibration setup of 10 degrees and 42 revolutions per second – 2,520 rpm). The current ODS limit of 317 yards will remain unchanged and would be applied to both testing setups.  

The Overall Distance Standard was established in 1976 as a ball test intended to reflect maximum potential hitting distance by the longest hitters currently playing the game. 

There is a direct correlation between clubhead speed and hitting distance (further research having been published in the Distance Insights reports). Over the last 20 years hitting distance has increased on average by around 1 yard per year.   

The modified testing setup in the proposed MLR is expected to reduce hitting distance by 14-15 yards on average for the longest hitters with the highest clubhead speeds. 

“Hitting distances at the elite level of the game have consistently increased over the past 20, 40, and 60 years. It’s been two decades since we last revisited our testing standards for ball distances,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “Predictable, continued increases will become a significant issue for the next generation if not addressed soon. The MLR we are proposing is simple to implement, forward-looking and does so without any impact on the recreational game. We are taking the next steps in this process, guided first and foremost by doing what’s right by the entire game.” 

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “We have worked closely with the golf industry throughout this process and taken time to listen carefully to their perspectives and reflect on the helpful and constructive feedback they have provided. At the core of our proposal is a desire to minimize the impact on a flourishing recreational game. We believe the proposed Model Local Rule will help us move forward in a way that protects the inherent qualities of the sport and reduces the pressure to lengthen courses. This is an important issue for golf and one which needs to be addressed if the sport is to retain its unique challenge and appeal.” 

The governing bodies have consulted closely with the golf industry throughout the Distance Insights project, which commenced in 2018 but has been under continual study over at least the last two decades. This is the fourth formal feedback period to be opened in the last five years, in addition to continuing stakeholder engagement across the game, including golfers, fans, competition organizers, equipment manufacturers, golf course owners, superintendents, architects and others.    

Based on feedback received from manufacturers, the USGA and The R&A are no longer considering the use of launch conditions that are optimized for each individual golf ball model to evaluate conformance. Similarly, they are not pursuing a reduction in the characteristic time limit in the existing Equipment Standards or changes to the Moment of Inertia limit of drivers at this time.   

The USGA and The R&A set out to address the long-term trend of increased hitting distances and course lengthening that they believe threatens golf’s long-term sustainability and undermines the core principle that a broad and balanced set of playing skills should remain the primary determinant of success in golf.    

The findings of extensive research by the governing bodies into distance (along with the supporting research and data) were set out within the Distance Insights report into the Implications of Hitting Distance in February 2020 under two key themes: the pressure on courses to continue to lengthen and ensuring that distance did not become predominant in the balance of skills required in golf.  

The report also found that the overall trend of golf courses becoming longer has adverse consequences, including by increasing the cost and time to play, limiting the advancement of sustainability efforts and reducing the challenge of courses – in some cases creating a risk of them becoming obsolete. 

The 2022 Annual Driving Distance Report, which aggregates hitting distance data reported by seven professional men’s and women’s tours worldwide, has also been released, and can be found here.  

Data provided for the report showed that the average clubhead speed on the PGA TOUR was 114.6 mph last year, with an average launch angle of 10.3° and average spin of 2,597 rpm. The mean of the fastest 1 percent of clubhead speeds was 127.5 mph in 2022, while the mean of the fastest 5 percent of clubhead speeds was 124.2 mph.  

The Annual Driving Distance Report also reports a 4 percent average year-over-year increase in hitting distance across all seven tours, with all but the Japan Golf Tour and LPGA Tour reporting the longest values on record. The Korn Ferry Tour recorded the highest annual hitting average across all tours in 2022, at 307.8 yards. 

Rules and Rants

2023 Rules of Golf publications now available for purchase

(Tom Shaw/ Getty Images)

The updated version of the Rules of Golf came into effect January 1st and to complement the rollout, golf’s governing bodies have published two important publications to communicate the updates.

These two publications cover the rules of golf and provide helpful insights for those involved in the game.

The Rules of Golf is the primary publication for officials and the main resource for players, golf club committees and referees. It covers the rules and includes updates and amendments from the 2019 edition.

The second publication, The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf 2023, provides context and sample scenarios for the rules, as well as clarifications and procedures for committees to follow. The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf essentially acts as a guidebook. Committees and officials will find information on the Rules, its clarifications, and any appropriate supporting procedures. It will act as a vital resource document intended as a supplementary publication for golf administrators, referees, officials and players.

“The 2023 Rules have a focus on making the rules easier to understand and more accessible with an emphasis on inclusion and sustainability,” said Mary Beth McKenna, Golf Canada’s Director of Amateur Championships and Rules. “The use of gender-neutral terms and the inclusion of Rule 25: Modifications for Players with Disabilities shows the games efforts on welcoming golfers of all abilities and demographics. Equally, there has been a reduction in the number of publications printed, encouraging casual golfers to utilize the Rules of Golf online or through the R&A app.”

Where to purchase them?

Golf Canada is the authorized distributor for The Rules of Golf Publications in Canada.

You will be able to access digital copies of both publications here.

The Rules of Golf and The Official Guide to Golf can also be purchased online using the links below;

Click here to buy the Rules of Golf

Click here to buy the Official Guide

Golf Canada provides both publications in English and French.

Note; The printed publications of the Rules of Golf and Official Guide are intended for golf administrators, referees and officials and rules enthusiasts.

In an effort to be more sustainable, please consider accessing the Rules of Golf for free through digital channels either on golfcanada.ca/rules, by visiting randa.org or usga.org/rules. Full updates to the official Rules of Golf digital applications are available now.

First Tee Rules and Rants

Rules of Amateur Status changes will help introduce the game to underserved demographics

“The Rules of Amateur Status.” “Growing the game.”  

In the past, those phrases were seldom mentioned in the same breath. 

But let’s give credit where it’s due. The Rules of Amateur Status are essential for preserving the integrity of the game by clearly delineating the difference between an amateur golfer and a pro. For example, amateurs must not accept payment or other compensation for giving instruction. (Golf instruction involves teaching the mechanics of swinging a club and hitting the ball.) That mandate belongs to PGA of Canada members. 

But recent changes to those Rules offer an exception if the instruction is part of a program that has been approved in advance. To date, two programs—First Tee ​Canada​ and Iron Lady Golf—have been approved. Each application is reviewed jointly by Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada.

“This change provides a great opportunity to show how the Rules of Amateur Status can be a positive to support amateur golfers and grow the game, especially in underserved demographics,” says Mary Beth McKenna, Golf Canada’s Director of Amateur Championships and Rules. “It allows approved programs to compensate amateur golfers for their time when helping introduce people to the game.” 

The Rule change doesn’t mean amateurs now can make a fulltime living doing this, McKenna emphasizes. What it allows is a reasonable amount of compensation for their time spent helping beginners, not teaching the game.​  Being an approved program means that the hours spent on instruction is restricted to ensure they fall within the approved parameters.​

First Tee is Golf Canada’s multi-tiered youth development program. Iron Lady Golf is a well-established private initiative designed to introduce women to the game. (So far, more than 20​,000.) The goal is to ​help ​make ​women​​ feel more comfortable by having female ​coaches​​. But with women making up only a small fraction of the PGA of Canada’s membership, having a female pro in every session is​ nearly​ impossible.

So Iron Lady Golf’s founder, Lindsay Knowlton, a Class A PGA of Canada professional, relies on what she calls “ambassadors”, experienced amateurs who assist with the basic fundamentals of etiquette, rules and ​ how to navigate your way around a golf course.​

“​W​​hen I got the news that our program had been approved, I was ​ecstatic because it meant we have the opportunity to introduce more women to golf in Canada,” Knowlton says.​ “We are passionate about helping more women say ‘yes’ to golf, making it more accessible and less intimidating. Our focus is working with beginner to ​​intermediate​ golfers. When​ someone ​shows an interest in ​​wanting ​more ​swing coaching, we​ can ​ pass them ​along​​ to a PGA pro. 

“We provide encouragement, a sense of community and inclusion. That’s what keeps people in the game.” 

The object of this specific Rule (Rule 4) is two-fold. First, to expand the wide end of the funnel to welcome more people, from more demographic segments, into the game.  Second, to provide support and guidance to beginners from more experienced golfers who, in the case of Iron Lady Golf, look like them, i.e, female. 

 “This can be inspirational,” says McKenna. “To see an accomplished amateur or pro who is a woman means a lot and the comfort level goes up exponentially, especially for a beginner.”

For Knowlton, this Rules change is literally game-changing. And, she says, “it’s proof Golf Canada and the PGA​ of Canada​ are 100-per-cent committed to growing the game in Canada.” 

Do you have a program you think would qualify? The modernized Rules of Amateur Status with helpful guidance note are available here.

Have a Rules questions? Contact our experts.

Rules and Rants

The R&A and USGA announce 2023 Rules of Golf update

Getty Images

The R&A and the USGA have unveiled a regular update to the Rules of Golf as they continue to make the Rules easier to understand and apply. The new Rules will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
 
The 2023 edition continues the modernisation process, with an emphasis on both inclusion and sustainability. For the first time, the modified Rules for players with disabilities have been fully incorporated into the playing rules without the need to adopt a local rule. The governing bodies, supported by longstanding partner Rolex, will also promote digital and mobile app access to the Rules while significantly reducing the production and distribution of more than four million printed books.

Several penalties have been relaxed and language has been clarified to help golfers at all levels of play.

Key changes include:

Golfers will be able to learn more about the major changes and review the official 2023 Rules of Golf by visiting randa.org and usga.org/rules. Full updates to the official Rules of Golf digital applications will be available starting on 1 January.
 
Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “We are continuing to improve and adapt the Rules of Golf to ensure they are in line with the way the modern game is played. That means making the Rules easier to understand and access for all golfers and making the sport more inclusive and welcoming for golfers with disabilities. We are also working to ensure golf has a sustainable long-term future and making more resources available digitally is key to achieving that goal.”
 
“The growing popularity of golf continues to guide our decision-making and modernising the Rules to promote inclusivity and accessibility is clearly a great step in the right direction,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA Chief Governance Officer. “This latest evolution is especially important to the community of golfers with disabilities, and we hope it will encourage more people to play and enjoy the game.”
 
Players are reminded that the current edition of the Rules of Golf (2019) still applies when playing or posting scores for the remainder of 2022.
 
As an extension of its support of the Rules of Golf worldwide, Rolex has made a commitment to support The R&A and the USGA’s efforts to modernise golf’s Rules. The Swiss watchmaker’s contribution to excellence in golf is based on a rich heritage stretching back more than 50 years, forged through pivotal partnerships at every level of the game, from the sport’s leading professional and amateur competitions and organisations, to players at the pinnacle of their sport worldwide.

Rules and Rants

R&A, USGA introduce Model Local Rule to further limit use of green-reading materials

Golf Canada Tee Block

Golf’s governing bodies have made available a Model Local Rule (MLR) to further limit the use of Green-Reading Materials. 

MLR G-11 enables a committee to limit players to using only the yardage book that it has approved for use in the competition. 

This local rule is intended only for the highest levels of competitive golf and, even then, only for competitions where it is realistic for the committee to undertake an approval process for yardage books. It will be available starting January 1, 2022.

The local rule gives a committee the ability to establish an officially approved yardage book for a competition so that the diagrams of putting greens show only minimal detail (such as significant slopes, tiers or false edges that indicate sections of greens). In addition, the local rule limits the handwritten notes that players and caddies are allowed to add to the approved yardage book. 

The purpose behind the local rule is to ensure that players and caddies use only their eyes and feel to help them read the line of play on the putting green. 

The USGA and The R&A developed MLR G-11 in response to feedback from several professional tours.

The MLR, along with question-and-answer guidance, can be found here.

As the local rule should only be adopted at the highest levels of competitive golf, all other golfers will continue to be able to use green-reading tools so long as they meet the requirements established in 2019.

For more information on the current rule, click here.

Rules and Rants

Golf’s modernized Rules of Amateur Status published

Katie Cranston - Canadian Junior Girls

Golf’s new Rules of Amateur Status have been published by The R&A and the USGA ahead of coming into effect on January 1, 2022.

The work was the latest step by the governing bodies to make the Rules easier to understand and apply, and follows the modernization process of the Rules of Golf in 2019. The new Rules were informed by golfer and golf industry feedback as a part of a comprehensive review, to ensure they continue to reflect how the modern game is played by millions of golfers around the world. 

This review, along with the global feedback received when the proposals were publicly shared earlier this year, reaffirmed amateur golf’s important position in the game and the value in maintaining amateur status Rules. 

(PHOTO: BERNARD BRAULT, GOLF CANADA)

The result is a set of Rules that removes many of the restrictions that previously applied to amateur golfers, while ensuring that the integrity of the game is protected by limiting the form and value of the prizes an amateur golfer can accept. 

As part of the modernisation effort, the new Rules identify only the following acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:

To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes have been introduced:

The new opportunities provided by lifting sponsorship restrictions and the ability to accept prize money up to the increased limit of $1200 CAD in scratch only competitions will be of significant benefit to elite amateur golfers looking for ways to fund golf-related expenses.

Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “We are delighted to be rolling out the modernised Rules of Amateur Status today. These Rules play an important role in protecting the integrity of our self-regulating sport but the code must evolve to meet the needs of the modern game. This is particularly important for modern elite amateur golf, where many of the players need financial support to compete and develop to their full potential. The new Rules give them this opportunity and will help to make the game even more inclusive.” 

“Golf is unique in its broad appeal to both recreational and competitive golfers,” said Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “This was emphasized in the feedback we received earlier this year and we believe these updates will help simplify these Rules and ensure the long-term health of the amateur game, not only to those who compete at the highest level of amateur golf, but for the millions of golfers at every age and skill level who enjoy competitive events at their home courses.”

“A great amount of work has gone into making the Rules easier to understand and apply for both the recreational and competitive golfer,” said Kevin Blue, Chief Sport Officer of Golf Canada.  

“As our sport evolves, it’s paramount the Rules remain relevant to provide fair competition for all.  We are confident that the changes reflect the modern game and will help with our continued efforts to grow the game.”

Kevin Blue

The new Rules are accompanied by guidance notes, an overview document and explanations that detail the rationale for why changes have been made and, in some instances, why they have stayed the same. These materials can be found here.

Handicapping Rules and Rants

Handicapping: Active seasons

Golf Canada

An Active Season is the period of time when acceptable scores from a specified area should be submitted for handicap purposes.  The Rules of Handicapping stipulates that every player is responsible for submitting all acceptable scores into one’s scoring record for rounds played on courses during the active season.

It is the responsibility of authorized provincial golf association to declare active and inactive seasons, with area clubs and players required to observe these dates for score posting purposes. To make this process easier, the Golf Canada Score Centre automatically considers the active season of the course being played when a score is posted and whether it should be included in calculating a player’s Handicap Index.

In Canada, the active season in each province is as follows:

BC =     Mar.1 – Nov.15
AB =     Mar.1 – Oct.31
SK =     Apr.15 – Oct.31
MB =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
ON =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
QC =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
NS =     Apr.15 – Oct.31
NB =     May.1 – Oct.31
PE =     Apr.16 – Nov.14
NL =     Apr.1 – Nov. 30

(NOTE:  Some Lower mainland and Vancouver Island courses may observe a year-round active season). For a list of clubs observing a year-round active season, please contact BC Golf

Scores made at any golf course observing an inactive season are not acceptable for handicap calculation purposes. This is because course conditions during inactive seasons are not consistent with the way that the Course & Slope Ratings were determined, which can impact the accuracy of a player’s Handicap Index.

Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club where the player is a member is observing an inactive season. The club’s Handicap Committee must make it possible for a player to post these away scores at the beginning of the active season.

It’s important to note that if you are travelling to other countries or regions, you should confirm their active seasons to ensure all acceptable scores are posted. Your home club needs all acceptable scores (even if played during a Canadian “off-season”) to ensure that your Handicap Index is accurate and reflects your demonstrated ability.

For example, if a player belonging to a golf club in Ontario plays golf in Florida (which observes a year-round active season) during January, any score(s) made in Florida are acceptable and must be submitted to the player’s scoring record. If the player is also a member of a golf club in Florida and Ontario, it is important to remember that all acceptable scores must be posted to each scoring record.  The Golf Canada Score Centre has tools available to link Canadian and USGA accounts, so that a score posted to one account is automatically transferred to the other.  For more information, or to set up this link, please contact members@golfcanada.ca or phone 1-800-263-0009 X399.

For a detailed list of active and inactive schedule in the United States, click here.

For more information on handicapping, click here.

TO ENTER YOUR SCORES FOR AN OFFICIAL HANDICAP, BECOME A GOLF CANADA MEMBER HERE.

Rules and Rants

The R&A and USGA announce new model local rule option for limiting club length

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. and ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The R&A and the USGA have announced that a new Model Local Rule (MLR G-10) will be available beginning on 1 January 2022 to provide those running professional or elite amateur golf competitions with the option of limiting the maximum length of a golf club (excluding putters) to 46 inches.

The proposal was announced in February 2021, which opened a notice-and-comment period to allow the industry the opportunity to provide feedback as part of the equipment rulemaking procedures. The comments received from the golf industry, including players, professional tours and equipment manufacturers, were carefully considered before the decision to proceed with the new MLR was reached.

The R&A and the USGA issued an Area of Interest notice in 2014 indicating that research was being conducted into the impact of club lengths of more than 48 inches on hitting distance and whether that limit remained appropriate. A proposed change to the limit was subsequently put forward in 2016 but was put on hold in 2017 when the Distance Insights project got underway.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We have taken time to consult fully with the golf industry, including players, the main professional tours and equipment manufacturers, and have considered their feedback carefully. We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time and it will provide tournament organisers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the Rules. We are working hard to maintain an open, collaborative and considered dialogue with these key stakeholders as we continue to evolve the Equipment Standards Rules to ensure they reflect the modern game.”

Mike Whan, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA, said, “We’ve worked closely with our industry partners to ensure the future for golf remains strong. Admittedly, this is not the ‘answer’ to the overall distance debate/issue but rather a simple option for competitive events. It’s important to note that it is not a ‘Rule of Golf,’ and as such, it is not mandated for the average, recreational golfer. Rather, this is an available tool for those running competitive events.”

The proposals submitted in February for changes to the testing method for golf balls and the testing tolerance for spring-like effect are still under consideration. The governing bodies plan to consider feedback on these proposals in line with the responses to the broader Area of Interest – Research Topics notification, which are due by 2 November.

The detail of MLR G-10 can be found here.

For more information visit www.RandA.org and www.usga.org

Rules and Rants

The R&A and the USGA modernize Amateur Status Rules

Rules of Golf – USGA and R&A announce modernization to Rules of Amateur Status

The USGA and The R&A have announced proposals for significant changes to the Rules of Amateur Status that govern the game worldwide.

These proposals result from a modernization initiative that has identified a clear need to bring the Rules up to date to reflect today’s global amateur game and ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply.

The proposed Rules, along with explanations to key changes, have been posted on usga.org and randa.org and the organizations are now inviting feedback from golfers and stakeholders. Comments will be accepted through Friday, March 26, with the new Rules scheduled to be adopted on January 1, 2022.

A comprehensive review of the Rules of Amateur Status began in late 2017, focusing on three main goals: to ensure the Rules are in the best interests of the game, reflect the modern game, and are easily understood and applied.

This review reaffirmed amateur golf’s important position in the game and the value in maintaining amateur status Rules to safeguard all the ways golf is played and enjoyed.

The result is a set of Rules that redefine the distinction between amateur and professional golf and provide a condition of eligibility – amateur status – for amateurs who compete in golf competitions.

As part of the modernization effort, it is proposed that the new Rules will identify only three acts that will result in a golfer losing their amateur status:

To achieve this simplified approach, the following key changes are proposed:

“Golf is unique in its broad appeal to both recreational and competitive golfers,” said Craig Winter, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “We understand and value how important amateur status is, not only to those who compete at the highest level of the amateur game, but for the millions of golfers at every age and skill level who enjoy competitive events at their home courses. These updates should help simplify these Rules and ensure the health of the amateur game.”

Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “The Rules of Amateur Status play an important role in protecting the integrity of our self-regulating sport but the code must continue to evolve. This is particularly so in relation to the modern elite amateur game, where many of the players need financial support to compete and develop to their full potential, and the proposed new Rules will give much greater scope for this.”

“Today marks another important step in the process to modernize the Rules of Amateur Status,” said Akash Patel, Rules and Competitions Manager at Golf Canada. “A great amount of work has gone into making the Rules easier to understand and apply for both the recreational and competitive golfer. We are confident that the proposed changes reflect the modern game and will help with our continued efforts to grow the game.” The proposed new Rules are accompanied by an overview document and explanations that detail the rationale for why changes are being proposed and, in some instances, why they have stayed the same.”