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Spring Golf is Finally Here

By Hailie Sandor, USGA

| Mar 20, 2019

Golfers all around the country are ready to get back out on the course. (USGA/Kirk H. Owens)

The long-awaited spring golf season is finally approaching in many parts of the United States. With active handicap seasons reopening, the practice of posting scores comes back into play, under a new set of Rules. 

Here are three things to keep in mind when you hit the course this spring.

Golf’s New Rules

On Jan. 1, 2019, the updated Rules of Golf went into effect for all players. These revisions were made in an effort to simplify the game and improve pace of play. Before you head out to play your first round of 2019, you should quickly review the major changes that can affect your round.

The new dropping procedure is one Rule change that can catch people off guard. When you take relief, make sure you drop that ball from knee height. If you forget, you can avoid a penalty by redropping at knee height before playing your next shot. Get your copy of the new Rules here.

Active Handicapping Season is Back

No one can predict what Mother Nature has in store for the spring golf season. As courses reopen, you may find yourself playing under preferred lies, also known as “winter rules,” during those first few weeks of the season. It’s important to remember that these scores are acceptable for handicap purposes and must be posted.

Something else to consider for 2019 is the new Maximum Score form of stroke play. The Committee in charge of the competition may set a maximum hole score, and players are encouraged to pick up once they reach the limit to help speed up play. For handicap-posting purposes, the player will record their most likely score from that point, while making sure the score does not exceed their Equitable Stroke Control limit.

Spring Course Care

Anticipation is high for players in early spring, but patience is important, too. Although superintendents want to allow full access, it’s important to avoid damage to dormant or slow-growing turf that could affect conditions for weeks or even months. Also, aeration is likely to be part of the spring course-care regimen. Remember that aeration might create a short-term disruption in your game, but the long-term benefits greatly outweigh the inconvenience.

The spring is an exciting time for players who are itching to get back onto the course. These few reminders might help players enjoy those first rounds of the season as they knock the rust off!

Hailie Sandor is the Associate Producer of Social Media for the USGA. Email her at