Major Change: Areas the Committee May Mark as Penalty Areas March 12, 2018

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

2019 Rule: Under the new Rules, “Water hazards” will be superseded by the expanded concept of “penalty areas”, and Rule 17 will provide the same basic options for relief that exist under the current Rules:

  • A penalty area will include both (1) all areas currently defined in the Rules as a water hazard or lateral water hazard and (2) any other areas the Committee chooses to define as penalty areas (with recommended guidelines to be provided in the guidebook).
  • Penalty areas may therefore include areas such as deserts, jungles, lava rock fields, etc.
  • The term “hazard” will no longer be used in the Rules.

Reasons for Change:

It has been recognized that requiring areas to contain water seems to be a somewhat arbitrary reason for permitting such relief options.   

For reasons such as safety and pace of play, many Committees have sought to expand the use of lateral water hazards by marking areas that do not contain water and by marking water hazards as red where that is not specifically contemplated by the Rules.

The broader use of “penalty areas” will allow Committees to respond to the wide range of settings in which golf is played by giving relief from areas that present similar obstacles to existing water hazards such as difficulties with finding and playing a ball and similar practical needs about pace of play.

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