With a new year comes change – and the sport of golf is no exception. There are a few tweaks to the rules in 2012 that golfers who like playing by the rules will want to pay attention to – and if you consider yourself strong in golf etiquette, you’ll want to keep updated as well. The following are a few of the latest updates to the game of golf, courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal:
“Sole purpose of caring for the course”
First, there is a new term making its way across the country’s golf courses: “Sole purpose of caring for the course.” Actions that are for the “sole purpose of caring for the course” are considered good etiquette and include everything from smoothing out a hole’s rough edges to replacing divots. While most people associate etiquette with being socially polite, true etiquette can also refer to actions you take while no one else is watching. Caring for the course certainly falls under this category.
“Addressing the ball”
Next, the act of “addressing the ball” has seen a few tweaks. If you’re not familiar with what “addressing the ball” means, here’s a quick rundown: a player has addressed a ball when he has grounded his club immediately before or behind the ball. When you’re addressing the ball, you’re essentially locking yourself in for a shot.
What are the changes in “addressing the ball?” For one, your stance is no longer a factor. You don’t have to look like you’re going in for a shot to address the ball in 2012, which means you need to be wary of where you place your club while waiting for others to take their shot.
This affects hazard shots, since you can now address a ball without getting into a formal stance. A player who has hit the ball into a hazard can still address the ball in odd places simply by grounding the club immediately in front of or behind the ball.
In addition, if you have addressed the ball and the ball moves – through no fault of yours – you are no longer assessed a penalty stroke. If the wind or gravity moves the ball while the player is addressing the ball, it will not count as an extra shot.
A new exception to the penalty rules pertaining to when a golfer arrives after his schedule tee-off has also been added. Usually, no extenuating circumstances would have any effect on how the player is penalized. But now certain circumstances such as a family emergency could mean that a player is not penalized for arriving outside of his tee-off timing window.
Many of these rules simply apply to official PGA play, but it’s important to follow official rules in ordinary matches in order to keep the scores consistent. Enforcing these rules is also important for proper etiquette, because it will demonstrate your dedication to keeping the game both honest and fair – even at your own expense.