The rules of golf, for every single competitor, changed dramatically changed for 2019. Every golfer is certainly affected by these rules changes, whether it be a touring professional or simply a social club player.
One key rule that changed was the timing allowed to look for a golf ball. The previous allocation was 5 minutes. This was cut to 3 to encourage pace of play as it was believed that these extra couple of minutes were adding a great deal of time to people’s round.
Corey Matthey, a member of the golf team at Morningside, strongly believed that this change would really help the pace of play and speed up golf “dramatically”. Matthey explained that the average golfer may lose 5-6 balls around, and if every member in the group is to do this then it all adds up. A college player would expect to lose less. ”Shaving those minutes can reduce playing times by up to 30 minutes on a round,” explained Matthey.
Todd Sapp, Morningside’s head golf coach, also explained how the rule change would benefit the game. Coach Sapp explains that golf is taking “longer and longer”, so any rule change that encourages speed to increase has to be a good thing for the sport and its competitors.
Another significant rule change that came into effect for the 2019 season was a change in the height for where a ball must be dropped from. Previously, the golf ball had to be dropped from shoulder height, whereas now the new rule forces the player to drop from knee height to remove the element of a potential advantage a competitor may get from being shorter.
Xan Milligan (part of the Morningside golf team) explained how the rule change made no great sense to him. “There is no way a competitor can gain an advantage from dropping at shoulder height”, explained Milligan. He also added that the new knee height drop had become strange and “almost awkward” to execute.
In contrast, Jonny Douglass added that he saw how this change can remove the advantage players get. Douglass claimed that taller players drop the ball from a significantly higher spot which increases the chance of getting a “poor lie” which acts as a great disadvantage. The new rule levels out the field just a little bit more and makes golf that little bit “fairer”.
To continue, another rule change brought into effect which brought about the most controversy is whether a player would decide to putt the ball with the flag in or out of the hole. The previous rule forced golfers to putt with the flag out otherwise they would receive a penalty. The new rule was brought in to execute the idea of ‘ready golf’ which encourages the pace of play to be quicker. However, players believe they may receive an advantage by putting the ball with the flag in.
Matthey believed the rule change has no benefit to the player, the only benefit being the increase of speed. “Players may believe when the ball hits the flag it acts as a block, but I think the ball will just ricochet off the flag depending on the speed”, explained Matthey. He also added that every flag design and weight is different, so the results will constantly vary depending on what type of flag is being used.
However, Coach Sapp explained a different point of view. Sapp explained how the weight of the flag is likely to “grab the ball” which will slow down all momentum. Taking away this momentum will benefit the golfer as the ball isn’t likely to then race past the flag. Sapp also adds that this will help prevent 3 putt golfers who suffer greatly from lost strokes on the green as their odds are “a little bit higher”.