Monday, October 26, 2015

R and A, USGA announce latest revisions to 
Rules of Golf
 The R and A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) have announced the latest revisions to the Rules of Amateur Status for golfers, which take effect on 1 January 2016.
The Rules of Amateur Status will be published within the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf, a collaborative work by The R and A and the USGA that applies to all golfers around the world.
Among the most significant changes to the 2016 Rules are the following:
  • Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address - Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address) has been withdrawn.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.
  • Prize Money to Charity - New Rule 3-1b enables an amateur golfer to participate in an event where prize money or its equivalent is donated to a recognised charity, provided the approval of the governing body is first obtained in advance by the organiser.
  • Golf-Related Expenses - New Rule 4-3 clarifies that an amateur golfer may receive reasonable expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred, for non-competition golf-related activities.  Former Rule 4-3 becomes Rule 4-4.
  • Reinstatement to Amateur Status - The recommended guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement are amended to provide that a period in breach of the Rules of up to six years (previously up to five years) should result in a period awaiting reinstatement of one year.
David Rickman, The R and A’s Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards, said, “After the fundamental review of Amateurism conducted in the previous Rules cycle we have had a period of consolidation and have continued to develop the uniform Code.
" The new Code provides flexibility in terms of supporting recognised charitable causes, while remaining faithful to the principles of Amateurism.
Thomas Pagel, Senior Director of Rules of Golf at the USGA, said, “The new Amateur Code continues to provide appropriate limits and restrictions to encourage the amateur golfer to focus on the challenge of the sport, rather than on any financial gains. We also want to make it easier for golfers to return to the amateur sport if they no longer wish to play professionally.”
Additional comments on prize money to charity
Until now, an amateur golfer has been prohibited in all respects from playing for prize money or its equivalent in a match, competition or exhibition.  However, from 1 January 2016, under new Rule 3-1b, an amateur golfer will be able to participate in an event where prize money is offered and donate any winnings to a pre-determined recognised charity, provided the approval of the governing body is obtained in advance by the organiser of the event.
This change has been made to reflect the growing number of charitable golf exhibitions organised around the world in aid of worthwhile causes and disaster relief agencies.  As long as the organiser seeks prior approval from the governing body, an amateur golfer may donate any prize money to the identified charitable cause without compromising their Amateur Status.
For the full text of the 2016 Rules of Amateur Status, please click here.


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