There is an old saying about March: In like a lion, out like a lamb. This year, it had nothing to do with weather when the USGA and The R&A came roaring into March with significant proposed changes to the Rules of Golf.
The March 1 preview might have come as a shock to golfers everywhere, but at the USGA and The R&A, it was the culmination of a five-year Rules Modernization initiative and the start of a six-month feedback and evaluation period dedicated to giving everyone who loves the game a chance to share their views on the proposed changes.
The USGA and The R&A drafted the proposed new Rules of Golf for 2019 in support of two guiding themes:
- Even far-reaching Rule changes should be open for discussion, while at the same time preserving golf’s essential principles and character.
- Keeping every golfer in mind, to make the Rules easier to understand and applicable to every golfer around the world, from professionals to beginners.
Given the unique scope of this initiative, we wanted to create an open forum that allows all who are interested to give us their perspective on the proposed new Rules. Golfers are encouraged to review the materials, to try out the proposed new Rules on the course over the next few months and to let us know what they think between now and August 31. These comments will be taken into account as we work to finalize the new Rules code in 2018 and implement on January 1, 2019.
“We are thrilled to have golfers from the U.S. and around the world share their opinions about the proposed changes,” said Kathryn Belanger, manager of Rules communications. “It has been gratifying to see that most golfers are responding favorably to the many changes we have proposed and they have been eager to share their views on what they would like to see occur for what will ultimately be part of the new Rules of Golf in 2019.”
In the week since the preview, thousands of golfers have already given their feedback through emails and phone calls with the USGA Rules department, in addition to a global survey through usga.org/rules. These golfers have shared opinions on what they like – and don’t like – about the proposed Rules changes and sharing their thoughts on other changes they would like to see made to the Rules.
”This feedback and evaluation period continues until the end of August and as the weather warms up and more golfers start getting out on the course, we are sure that they will start thinking about the Rules that affect their games,” Belanger said. “As they talk with their friends and golf partners, we certainly hope that golfers will feel empowered to share their views regularly between now and then.”
The 2019 Rules of Golf will be written in a simple, modern style and will include graphics to help further clarify the text of the Rules. A Player’s Edition of the Rules will also be released, which will be written from the player’s perspective and focus on what the typical golfer needs to know. But for the next six months, you can play a vital role in making your voice heard; you have six months to make your voice heard, so help the USGA and The R&A make an impact on the way you use and interact with the Rules of Golf. For more information on the proposed changes and to share your views, please click here.
David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.