IMPORTANT Rules Changes for 2019
These new rules changes go into effect January 1, 2019
Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 IMPORTANT RULES CHANGES (Effective January 1, 2019)

The Rules of Golf underwent a complete overhaul by the USGA and R&A. Their goal was to simplify the rules for everyone to understand more easily. Here are some of the major changes that will impact the tournaments on the Minor League Golf Tour.

BALL DROPPED from knee height instead of shoulder height. If a ball is dropped from any height other than knee height you can correct your mistake without penalty BEFORE the next shot is played.

Knee Height Drop

BALL SEARCH reduced to 3 minutes from 5 minutes.

RED PENALTY AREAS - You no longer have the option of taking relief on the opposite side of the point where your ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area.

RELIEF AREA - ball must be dropped in defined relief area, one club length (two club lengths for lateral relief from penalty area or for unplayable), and remain in the relief area in the same area of the course where the ball first struck the ground. The relief area, determined using the longest club in your bag excluding your putter, is used any time you take a drop, including free relief (in/on moveable obstruction, immoveable obstruction, GUR, temporary water, embedded ball) and relief with penalty (penalty area and unplayable).

DAMAGE TO PUTTING GREEN may be repaired, including spike marks, animal tracks and embedded objects, but not natural imperfections.

Spike Marks

GROUNDING YOUR CLUB is now allowed in penalty areas (previously water hazards), but not in a bunker.

Penalty Area

LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS may be removed from bunkers and penalty areas.


BUNKER - You can remove loose impediments and lean on your club; you cannot touch the sand by grounding the club in front or behind the ball, in making practice swings, or on your backswing. Nor can you test the condition of the bunker.

DOUBLE HIT is no longer a penalty as long as it was accidental.

FLAGSTICK may be left in the hole while you putt. No penalty if you hit it, or the person attending the flag. Play the ball as it lies. If a flagstick has been left in the hole, it’s a two-shot penalty to anyone who pulls the flag while a ball is in motion.

Accidental movement - replace the ball, no penalty.
Movement by wind or water - play the ball as it lies, unless you’ve already lifted and replaced the ball once, then replace again on same spot.

The rules changes noted above are intended to highlight the major changes. Please go to for more complete and detailed information.


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