Date: November 02, 2015
Author: D.Tease, Golf NSW

R&A rules chief talks rule changes for 2016

David Bonsall is a man on a mission spreading the word about changes to the Rules of Golf which come into effect on 1 January 2016.

Mr Bonsall, Chairman of the Rules of Golf Committee of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, is at Pennant Hills Golf Club presenting a seminar to NSW Golf Club and District Rules Officials to promote the 2016 Edition of the Rules of Golf.

“I think all golfers should embrace the changes and learn about them as quickly as they could,” says Mr Bonsall. “The R&A has a very good website which contains all the information about the rules and about the changes, and of course the local and national bodies have a lot of material as well.”

The latest edition of the Rules contains four main changes, one change is a withdrawal of a rule, which Mr Bonsall explains is quite unusual.

“We're taking out Rule 18-2B which applied a penalty automatically if a ball moved after the player had addressed it,” Mr Bonsall says. “We can rely on the other rule that remains, Rule 18-2, which is whether the player caused the ball to move.”

“That’s the key question and that's what we are deciding upon; whether it’s a penalty and you replace the ball, or there’s no penalty and you play the ball from where it has gone to and its new position.”

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The other three key changes relate to a Limited Exception to a Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score, The Modification of Penalty for a Single Permissible Use of Artificial Device or Equipment, and the Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke, which was announced in May 2013.

The Rules of Golf are reviewed on a four-year cycle in consultation with the United States Golf Association (USGA), a cycle that starts immediately after the new Rule book comes into effect.

Suggestions for changes and alterations to the Rules of Golf come in from national bodies and affiliates from all around the world.

“We go through a review process to decide which proposals make sense and should be brought forward for discussion with our colleagues at the USGA," Mr Bonsall explains. “If it’s all agreed we go forward to a further Committee called the Quadrennial Rules Conference, which then approves and states those Rules and changes which will come into effect in the next four year cycle.”

Click to listen to David Bonsall from The R&A talking Rules of Golf 2016

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The latest edition of Rules of Golf will be the 33rd printing of the game’s standard of play. Around 2,500,000 copies are distributed in English and the Rules are translated into another 36 different languages for use around the world.

“The first recorded version of the Rules of Golf were produced by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield,” Grant Moir, R&A Director – Rules explains. “The R&A first produced a version of the Rules of Golf in 1754.”

“The R&A were asked to produce a single Code of Rules in 1897, which was published in 1899,” Mr Moir says. “They were the first standard set of rules for Great Britain and Ireland, but since then they’ve become the standard for the whole world.”

And of course, they will remain the standard in our Game for many more years to come.