Castle Royle Golf & Country Club

The major changes to the R&A Rules of Golf, which are coming into force on the 1st January 2019, are explained here in a series of articles and video clips, published by England Golf.

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 Simple Explanation and Castle Royle Comments

Dropping the BallDrop the ball from knee height from now on. The ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area. Includes dropping in a bunker.
Penalty Areas

No such thing as water hazards any more, they are defined as 'Penalty Areas'. Areas without water can now be declared a penalty area.

The two types of penalty areas will be known by the colour of their marking: yellow, which gives two relief options; and red which gives the additional option of lateral relief. Committees will be given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so that lateral relief will always be allowed.


The player is now allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker and will generally be allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club.

However, the player must not:

  • Deliberately touch the sand in a bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the stroke, or

  • Touch the sand in a bunker with a club in making a practice swing, in grounding the club right in front of or behind the ball, or in making the backswing for a stroke.

When taking relief for an unplayable ball in a bunker the player will have an extra option allowing relief outside the bunker using the back-on-the-line procedure, but for a total of two penalty strokes.

Putting Green

A player can now repair almost any damage on the green. e.g. ball-marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc. Exceptions are aeration holes, natural surface imperfections or natural wear of the hole.

There is now no penalty for merely touching the line of play on the putting green

You can leave the flag in when putting as there is no longer a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole.

Ball moving on Putting Green

No longer a penalty if a player (or opponent) accidentally causes the player’s ball to move on the putting green.

When a ball on the putting green is moved by wind, water or other natural forces where it is replaced depends on whether you have previously marked it (see detail).

Pace of Play

Players must recognise that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee.

A player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds - and usually less - after they are able to play without interference or distraction.

Playing out of turn in match play is allowed, if agreed with the opponent(s). In stroke play, players are encouraged to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way to save time or for convenience (ready golf).

The new time allowed for a ball search is 3 minutes.

Ball moved during search

The player will get no penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move. The ball will always be replaced. If the exact spot is not known, the player will replace the ball on the estimated original spot.

The player will now be allowed to mark and lift the ball without needing first to announce this intention to another person or to give that person a chance to observe the process. A penalty is still incurred if the Player marked and lifted the ball without good reason.

Replacing Ball

If a player's ball at rest, anywhere off the putting green, is lifted or moved under a Rule that requires the ball to be replaced, the ball will always be placed on a spot rather than being dropped.

Substitution of BallWhen taking relief, the player will always be allowed the choice of substituting a ball or using the original ball.
Role of your Caddie

Once the player begins taking a stance for their stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie (or their partner or partner’s caddie) must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.

The player’s caddie will be allowed to mark and lift the player’s ball on the putting green any time the player is allowed to do so, without needing authorisation.

Known or Virtually Certain

Since “known or virtually certain” means more than just possible or probable, this standard will be simpler to apply because it will eliminate most “close calls” where it is hard to know for sure why the ball moved.

Maximum score form of stroke play

This is where a maximum number of strokes is applied to each hole to avoid very high scores and speed up play.

Under advice from the BB&O County Union, Castle Royle will NOT be introducing this form of competition as it is not acceptable to CONGU who control the handicapping system used.

Specific Rules

Out of bounds rule changeUnder advice from the BB&O County Union, Castle Royle will NOT be installing a local rule that golfers can drop a new ball in the vicinity of where their ball has gone out of bounds, with a two stroke penalty.

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