Written by Joyce McCann, 18ers Rules Chair.

As all Rossmoor golfers are probably aware, as of January 1st, many rules of golf have changed. Brent Mulanax summarized many of the more significant changes in his article that appeared in the Rossmoor News December 19th. 18er Rules Corner articles will focus on common situations you are likely to find yourself in.

Let’s say you played golf on New Year’s Eve (under the old rules), and then came out on New Year’s day after a night of celebration to play again (under the new rules). Let’s see how the new Rules will apply to what may happen on the first hole of the Dollar course after a night of celebration.
a. Your first swing on the tee almost misses the ball, but not quite, and the ball ends up off the tee but still within the teeing area. Under both the old and new rules, that first swing counts. Under the old rules, your second shot would have had to be hit from wherever the ball came to rest in the teeing area. However, under the new rules, you can pick the ball up and put it back on a tee anywhere in the teeing area to hit your second shot (New rule 6.2b).

b. Your second shot is better, but the ball slices and goes into the tall grass in the rough on the right side of the fairway. Under the old rules, you would have had 5 minutes to search for the ball. If you couldn’t find it, you would have had to take stroke and distance penalty, walking all the way back to the tee to hit again. Under the new rules, you only have 3 minutes to find the ball (New rule 18.2a). Furthermore, if you don’t find it, a suggested new local rule for general play (i.e., not top level competitions) (Model Local Rule E-5) provides an alternative to walking back to where your last shot was hit. If our club adopts this local rule, you will have the option of dropping a ball on the fairway within 2 club lengths of the point of fairway nearest to where the original ball is estimated to have come to rest. You will still have to take 2 penalty strokes, but you will not have to walk all the way back to hit the next shot. We hope our club adopts this new local rule.

c. Your 5th shot is pretty good, but just misses the green to the left, leaving a delicate chip. You inadvertently double-hit the chip shot. Under the old rules, you would have had to count both hits as strokes, but under the new rules you don’t (New rule 10.1a)!

d. Finally, you hurry to putt because, by this time, you’re flustered and don’t want to hold the group up any longer. But in hurrying, you putt before the flag has been removed from the hole and your putt hits the flagstick. Under the old rules, you would have incurred a two-stroke penalty for hitting the flagstick, but under the new rules you don’t incur any penalty (New rule 13.2a)!

So, you can see from this rather chaotic first hole experience, the new rules were a big help. You got to re-tee the ball after dubbing your first drive, you didn’t have to walk all the way back to the tee to hit your next shot after losing your second tee-ball, and in addition, you did not have to take penalty strokes for double-hitting your chip shot or for your putt hitting the flagstick. Playing by the old rules you would have scored a 10 on the hole, but playing by the new rules you would have scored a 7. So, hooray for the new rules!