Hi all and welcome to my Captains report.

The 1st January 2019 brings with it significant changes to the rules of golf as we know it. The governing bodies realise that the game is ‘over’ ruled and for whatever reason, slow play is a major issue in people turning away from the game. The majority of the rule changes are based around these two ideals.

You will hear about 20 rule changes to golf, but there are actually more. For the most part, the rule changes are pretty simple. You now have 3 minutes to look for your ball, not five. Drops are taken from knee height, not shoulder height. You can now putt with the flag in and hit the flag with no penalty…all pretty straight forward.

One main change for us is the notion of ‘penalty areas.’ From the 1/1/2019, there will be no such thing as a hazard. They will be called penalty areas. But clubs will also be able to nominate penalty areas in areas where there is no water. An example would be the bushes long of 13th green. You will be now able to treat these areas similar to hazards. If you are 95% sure your ball entered this area you will be able to drop it two club lengths no nearer the hole under one stroke penalty. If dropping no nearer the hole is not possible, then a drop zone will be provided.

You can also draw a line from the flag to the spot where you believe your ball has entered the penalty area and drop ball anywhere along that line as far back as you want. But most important, is that you can still play it from the penalty area with no shot penalty. As an extra bonus, you are now allowed to ground your club, make a practise swing and clear loose impediment around the ball when you are in a penalty area, just like if you were on the fairway.

Your match committee believe that all of our garden and vegetated areas should be penalty areas. But constant painting of red zones and placing hundreds of red stakes would be totally impractical. To make it easier, the following wording will apply as a local rule.

“A penalty area is any area defined by red stakes or red paint or any garden or vegetated area of which there is wood chip or remnants of wood chip present.”

Clubs also have the option of implementing Optional Local Rules relating to dealing with lost balls or balls hit out of bounds. In short, you will be able to drop your ball near where the ball is thought to be lost or OOB, or at a point no nearer the hole on your fairway (Two club lengths onto the fairway from the rough) , or basically any point between these points or behind these points. But the penalty is two shots. There is an excellent video describing this process. Type this into your browser.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any rules enquiries. There will be some teething problems but we will get through it. Stay tuned to some local videos with some undiscovered local talent starring in them.

Peter Sliwinski