MODERNIZING GOLF'S RULES
Recommended "Test Rules" For Use in Unofficial Event

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For [describe unofficial event], the current 2016 Rules of Golf apply, except that the following revised “Test Rules” will apply to allow you try out some of the proposed new Rules of Golf for 2019. These Test Rules are written from the perspective of “you,” the individual player.

Scores returned using these Test Rules may not be posted for handicapping purposes.

Putting Green

  • Leaving the flagstick in the hole. No penalty if your ball hits the unattended flagstick in the hole, including when you play your ball from the putting green. If your ball deflects off the flagstick and is not holed, you must play it as it lies.

  • Repairing damage. You may repair all damage on the putting green (including spike marks and other shoe damage) other than natural imperfections or aeration holes.

  • Touching your line of putt. No penalty for merely touching your line of putt, but you must not improve your line of putt beyond the allowed repair.

  • Your ball or ball-marker moves. No penalty if you (or your opponent in match play) accidentally move your ball or ball-marker on the putting green. You must replace your ball or ball-marker on the original spot (which, if you don’t know it, you must estimate).

  • Your ball moves for any reason after you had lifted and replaced it. If your ball on the putting green is moved by anyone or anything (including by the wind) after you already had lifted and replaced it, you must replace your ball on its original spot.


Bunkers

  • Moving loose impediments. When your ball is in a bunker, you may move loose impediments in the bunker.

  • Touching the sand. When your ball is in a bunker, no penalty for touching the sand in the bunker with your hand, club or other object, except:

    You must not deliberately touch the sand with your hand or a club, rake or other object to test the bunker’s condition, and you must not touch the sand with your club right behind or in front of your ball, in making your backswing for your stroke or in making a practice swing.


Water Hazards (to be known as Penalty Areas)

  • Moving loose impediments and touching the ground. When your ball is in a water hazard, you may move loose impediments and touch the water or the ground in the water hazard with your hand or club (such as in grounding your club or taking practice swings).


Searching for Ball

  • Time for search. Your ball is lost if you don’t find or identify it in three minutes after you or your caddie begin looking for it.
              
  • Accidentally moving your ball. No penalty if you or your caddie accidentally moves your ball during search. You must estimate the ball’s original spot and replace it on that spot.


Taking Relief When a Rule Requires You to Drop a Ball

  • How to drop your ball.
    You must hold your ball above the ground without it touching any growing thing or natural or artificial object, and let go of your ball so that it falls through the air before coming to rest. To avoid doubt whether you did this right, it is recommended that you drop the ball from at least one inch above the ground (including any growing thing or natural or artificial object).

  • Finding your relief area. You must drop the ball in and play it from a relief area measured from the reference point or line given in the Rule under which you are taking relief. 

    When current Rules tell you to drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief
    (such as immovable obstructions, ground under repair, etc.) – Your relief area is 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) from the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole. 

    When current Rules tell you to drop as near as possible to a spot
    (such as stroke and distance relief, embedded ball, ball on or in movable obstruction, etc.) – Your relief area is 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) from that spot, no closer to the hole.

    When current Rules tell you to drop within two club-lengths
    (lateral water hazard or an unplayable ball) – Your relief area is 80 inches (203.2 centimeters) from the reference point (that is, where your ball entered the water hazard or was unplayable), no closer to the hole.

    When current Rules tell you to drop back on a line
    (such as behind a water hazard or behind the spot of an unplayable ball) – Your relief area is 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) on either side of the estimated line from the hole through the designated point (such as where your ball entered the water hazard or was unplayable).

  • Where to drop and play your ball.
    You must drop your ball in and play it from the designated relief area.

    If your dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, you must lift it and drop it again. There is no set limit to the number of times to re-drop your ball, and if necessary you should try to drop it in different parts of the relief area.

    If your dropped ball will not stay in the relief area after several tries and it is reasonable to conclude that it will not stay in the relief area no matter where you drop it within that area or how you drop it (including dropping it from as low a height as allowed), you may place the ball at any spot in the relief area.

  • Ball to use in taking relief. Whenever you take relief by dropping a ball (whether free relief or penalty relief), you may either use your original ball or substitute another ball.


Option to Use New Alternative Form of Stroke Play:

These Test Rules may be used with current forms of play such as match play, standard stroke play or Stableford.

They may also be used with the proposed Maximum Score form of stroke play, in which case:

  • Your maximum score per hole is [net] triple bogey.

  • If you “pick up” and do not complete any hole, you are not disqualified and must record the maximum score as your score for the hole.

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