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Week 1 R&A Rules Change update

Topic: General


In the new rules for 2019 the course will have 5 defined areas.

The General Area will cover the entire course except for the following 4 specific areas:

- Penalty Areas

- Putting Green (of the hole being played)

- Bunkers

- Teeing Area (of the hole being played)

If part of the ball is in several areas of the course it will be treated as lying in the specific area that comes first in this order:

Penalty Area, Bunker, Putting Green

The Committee will be able to define a part of the course that is in a penalty area or abnormal course condition as a No Play Zone.

The player must take complete relief in a No Play Zone from interference with their lie, stance or area of intended swing.

Penalty Areas

- replace water hazards and lateral water hazards

- are identified as either yellow or red (with additional lateral relief option)

- are any body of water such as lakes, rivers or ditches (whether marked or not)

- may also be any area the Committee wishes. E.g. a dense area of trees where balls are often lost and slow play

A player may now play from a penalty area in the same way they play from the general area.

They may ground their club, take practice swings, touch the water with their back swing, and move loose impediments.

Relief from immovable obstructions or abnormal course condition in a penalty area is still not permitted under the new rules.

Putting Green

The rules have been relaxed to allow the player to repair damage to the putting green caused by a person or outside influence. E.g. shoe damage, scrapes caused by the flag, animal tracks, embedded objects such as stones, old hole plugs.

The player may touch their line of play on the putting green.


A bunker is a prepared area of sand, often a hollow from which turf or soil has been removed. A lip, wall or face at the edge of the prepared area consisting of soil, covered in grass, stacked turf or artificial material is not part of the bunker. Free relief for a ball embedded in soil (not sand) in the lip, wall or face of a bunker will now be available.

A player may remove loose impediments in a bunker and touch the sand, providing they do not test its condition or touch the sand right in front of or behind the ball, in making a practice swing or during the backswing for a stroke.

Teeing Area

When a ball lies in the teeing area after making a stroke it may be lifted, moved or substituted without penalty, just as if it was your first stroke from the teeing area. E.g. if you tee off and your ball hits a tree and lands back in the teeing area, you can tee it up again.

Next week we will discuss the new procedures for taking relief.