The 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf was released on Monday and the their were four major changes made, all with the same theme: simplicity.
In addition to the official addition of the putter anchor ban, which was first announced in May of 2013, three more significan changes were made to the 2016 edition put out by the R&A and the USGA.
“We continually look at ways we can improve and clarify the Rules of Golf,” said David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of rules and equipment standards. “The R&A and the USGA collaborate closely and we consult with our respective national and international advisory members to produce a code of rules that is relevant to all golfers around the world.”
One of the most, if not the most significant of a change was the change made to rule 18-2b. The rule now states that a player is no longer deemed to have caused a golf ball to move after address, meaning that even after grounding a club or putter, a player can't be penalized for wind or something else out of his control from moving the ball. In addition, rules officials will now take a more nuanced look at possible violations to consider other factors, such as the amount of time taken after a golf club is grounded and the ball moves.
Two other rules that used to result in an automatic disqualification have also been adjusted to make the penalty less harsh.
Rule 6-6d, which is the rule for signing an incorrect scorecard has been changed to state that a player who signs a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player was not aware of when he signed his scorecard will now result in a two stroke penalty. Up to this point, the infraction resulted in an automatic DQ, most recently in 2011 when Jupiter resident Camilo Villegas was disqualified from the Hyandai Tournament of Champions after moving a lost impediment that moved his ball, but not being made aware of it until after he turned in his scorecard.
Also being changed from a DQ to two-stroke penalty will be rule 14-3, which addresses training aids and other artificial devices or equipment used during a competitive round. While the first infraction has been changed to a two-stroke penalty, a second infraction will remain a disqualification.
The updated Rules of Golf also brought some added clarity to the new anchored putter ban. R&A and USGA officials said they anticipate some players will keep using longer putters without anchoring, and that the new rule is “intent based” and there would be no violation if the club inadvertently brushes against a player’s body.
The rules for the pros weren't the only thing that got a makeover in 2016, the Rules of Amateur status also saw a change in the addition of Rule 3-1b. As a result, amateurs will now be allowed to accept professional prize money, but only if the winnings are donated to a pre-designated charity that has been cleared by the event organizer. Previously, amateurs have been prohibited from playing for prize money.