- Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address - Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
- Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card - A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
- Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment - The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
- Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke - As announced in May 2013, the new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club) prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
2016 Rules Changes
The following are the four main rule changes which took place on Jan. 1st, 2016.
The Rules of Golf were originally set down in the United Kingdom in 1744. The R & A (Royal and Ancient) of St. Andrews issued the first code based on these rules in 1899. The USGA, and I believe, all other National Golf Associations basically defer to this set of rules. Some people (golfers and non-golfers alike) scoff at these rules, believing them to be somewhat ridiculous. To this end, the rules committee undertakes to review these rules and suggest changes every so often. The changes you see here for 2016 have been discussed at length by this committee.
If you want a good chuckle regarding some of these rules, there is a book by Henry Beard (founder of National Lampoon) called, The Official Exceptions to the Rules of Golf” that gives a hacker’s view on said rules.