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2019 rules changes to know: What to do if a ball in motion is deflected, double hit

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On Jan. 1, more than 30 changes to the Rules of Golf — some small, others significant — will take effect. To get you ready, this holiday season GOLF.com is rolling out a series, “The 12 Days of Rules Changes,” to ensure you always play by the rules, starting with your opening round of the year. Today, we’re covering changes to the rules regarding a ball in motion being deflected and double hits.

The Topic: What do when a ball is accidentally deflected while in motion, or when a ball is accidentally double hit.

The Old Rule: Rule 19 of the old Rules of Golf governs what to when a ball in motion is deflected or stopped, and it’s a doozy. With so many complicated decisions and scenarios with different guidelines, it’s no wonder why golf’s governing bodies chose to update the rule. In the old rules, the key point of distinction is whether a player deflects his own ball, or if an outside agency is the source of the deflection.

If an outside agency deflects or stops a ball in motion, you must play the ball where it lies, with two exceptions. But here we’re specifically concerned with scenarios in which a player deflects his own ball when it’s in motion. When that happens, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty and must play it as it lies. If after being deflected the ball comes to rest on the player or his equipment, the ball must be dropped or placed on the green closest to where it came to rest.

As for double hits, if a player hits his ball twice in one stroke, accidentally or intentionally, he must count the original stroke and incur a one-stroke penalty, and then play it where it lies. In effect, it’s a one-shot penalty.

The New Rule: The new changes simplify both of these rules considerably, eliminating the distinction between a deflection  caused by an outside agency and one caused by the player who hit the ball.  According to new Rule 11.1, if a player deflects or stops his own ball in motion there is no penalty and he must play it as it lies. Provided he did so accidentally, that is (more on that later).

Similarly, if a player accidentally hits his ball twice in one stroke there is no penalty, and the ball must be played as it lies (Rule 10.1a).

Why It Was Changed: The USGA says the following about why the accidental deflection rule was changed: “Many objects, persons and animals are present on a golf course during play; it is inevitable that a ball in motion will sometimes hit them before coming to rest, and a player is generally required to accept the outcome (whether good or bad).” The new rule essentially equates the player who hit the ball with other “objects, personal and animals” that could accidentally deflect a ball.

Furthermore, they argue that since no penalty is charged when a player deflects another player’s ball, a person shouldn’t receive a penalty for accidentally deflecting his own ball, either.

The governing bodies make a similar argument for double hits. They determined that it is unfair to penalize someone for accidentally double hitting their own ball. “Just as there is no penalty if a player’s ball accidentally deflects off his or her body, equipment or caddie, there is no need for a penalty when a player accidentally strikes his or her own ball in making a stroke.”

Just one month before the rule change would go into effect, Tiger Woods was involved in a rules controversy involving double hits. On the final hole of the Hero World Challenge in December, Tiger’s tee shot came to rest underneath a bush in a sandy area. Woods got onto his knees and took a sideways swipe at the ball. After the round, Woods and rules officials reviewed video to see if Tiger had accidentally committed a double hit on the shot. Both parties suggested the video did indeed show a double hit, which in the old rules would have resulted in a penalty. However, Woods was ultimately saved by a different rule change that has already gone into effect. Since the officials needed HD video and slo-mo replay to see the double hit, no penalty was charged.

Will It Be Controversial?: Only real tournament action will prove whether or not these rules changes breed controversy. One aspect of the new rules, though, should cause some concern. In fact, it’s just one word, a word that pops up in an alarming number of the new rules: “accidentally.”

Both of these new rules are dependent on the violation being unintentional. While that’s a good thing in terms of fairness, it opens the possibility that players will take advantage of the rules. For example, if a player was in a hypothetical situation in which a double hit would improve his shot, that player could proceed to commit a double hit and then claim it was accidental. Since there is no way to prove he is lying, he would not be penalized, according to the new rules. While that scenario might seem unlikely, consider the new deflection rule in the same light. Surely players can nefariously take advantage of that rule. With the amount of money on the line and the pressure that goes with it, there’s a strong chance it will happen eventually.

How It Can Help You: These rule changes will no doubt make a casual recreational round simpler, with less chance for an honest mistake turning into a day-ruiner. Old rules like these ones, in which a player is penalized without intentionally doing anything wrong, without a doubt turn people away from the game of golf and make the sport less fun. So, it’s a win in terms of growing the game. More than anything, though, the change ensures that the official rules are in line with how regular hackers already play the game. Few friends are counting every double hit out of a buried bunker lie during their weekly rounds. Now, they won’t be breaking any rules in doing so.

2019 rules changes to know: What to do if a ball in motion is deflected, double hit was originally posted at https://www.golf.com/instruction/2018/12/23/ball-in-motion-is-deflected-rules-change-2019/ by Kevin Cunningham

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PHOTOS: What's in the bag at the Genesis Open

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — If the Genesis Open was a movie, it’d be a blockbuster filled with A-list talent. Tiger Woods leads a loaded field that includes, among others, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. With most of the big names in professional golf at Riviera Country Club, GOLF.com equipment editor Jonathan Wall is on site providing a running equipment gallery of what players are using, as well as any new gear that surfaces on Tour this week.

Keep checking this story over the next few days as additional photos are added.

Monday 

PHOTOS: What's in the bag at the Genesis Open was originally posted at https://www.golf.com/gear/pros-bags/2019/02/12/photos-pros-bag-genesis-open-2019/ by Jonathan Wall

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Golf’s New Rules: Few Players Know Them, Fewer Understand Them – The New York Times

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am never fails to rattle Darius Rucker’s nerves. This year though, Rucker, the three-time Grammy Award winning musician, had more to fret about than hitting a spectator or getting in the way of his pro partner, Kenny Perry.

“Now you’re scared that somebody’s going to come call a rules violation on you with something that you don’t know about anything,” Rucker said before the tournament began last week.

The pros are just as worried. The United States Golf Association and the R&A revised the sport’s rule book to simplify the game and speed up the pace of play. But so far the changes, which took effect at the start of 2019, have been harder to follow than a game of Simon Says.

In the few weeks since the modifications took effect, players have repeatedly sought guidance from the nearest rules official, their caddies or pieces of paper tucked inside their golf bags, undermining for now, at least, the stated intention of making things simpler and faster.

And it’s adding an extra bit of hesitancy to the pros’ trip through the course. During a rain-sodden second round at Pebble Beach on Friday, Hunter Mahan was forced to consult a tournament-issued rules sheet before touching his ball. “We thought we knew what the rule was,” Mahan said, “but there’s no clarity, so having an official or actually having it written down is the only true clarification.”

One of the new rules lowered the height from which players make a drop: it is now from the knees, rather than the shoulders, a change that the former men’s world No. 1 Adam Scott described as awkward. Whenever he bends over or squats with the ball, he can’t help but imagine rules officials assigned to monitor potential rules violations squinting at their screens, scrutinizing his release down to the inch.

“They’ve just written more gray areas into the game that were not necessary,” said Scott, who won’t make a drop without asking his caddie or a nearby official if he has the height right.

Even those enforcing the rules have been confused about how to interpret them. During the second round of the Phoenix Open earlier this month, Denny McCarthy was assessed a two-stroke penalty under Rule 10.2b(4), a new regulation that prohibits caddies from standing behind players as they line up for their shots.

ImageA rules official closely observed as Bryson DeChambeau lined up a putt during the Sony Open in Hawaii last week.CreditKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While McCarthy took a few practice swings, his caddie stood behind him. McCarthy stepped away before hitting the shot, and when he came back to the ball and set his stance, his caddie was standing off to the side. The next day, the PGA Tour announced that it had rescinded the penalty after reviewing McCarthy’s actions, and his score of 67 became a 65.

Somewhat lost in the turbulence created by the alignment rule in the men’s game is the fact that the change was seen as directed at the L.P.G.A., where caddies lining up players had been more common. Brittany Lincicome, an eight-time L.P.G.A. tour winner and two-time major champion, said she was glad “it wasn’t one of us” who became the rule’s first victim.

After the caddie-alignment episode with McCarthy, and several similar situations involving other players, the U.S.G.A. and the R&A issued a clarification: If players reset their stances after their caddies have surveyed a shot, there is no penalty.

“Going in, we knew there were certain things that were going to come up that you’d say, ‘We’re not sure we contemplated this or the intention was never to have this outcome,’” Mike Davis, the chief executive of the U.S.G.A. told the Global Golf Post. He added, “All in all, in terms of how they’re being perceive around the globe, it’s very positive.”

That wasn’t the case for Rickie Fowler, who took dead aim at the caddie-alignment rule during the Phoenix Open. “You’re talking about growing the game and making things play faster and whatnot,” he said, “but that’s not growing the game.”

Adding to Fowler’s exasperation was a run-in with one of the rule book’s unchanged regulations on the Sunday of the tournament. He took a two-stroke penalty for hitting a shot into the water, then absorbed another one-stroke penalty after his ball rolled back into the hazard several seconds after he walked toward the green to survey his chip.

After carding a triple bogey, Fowler, in a show of gallows humor, petitioned the rules official, Slugger White, for a rules modification.

Fowler hung on to win, but Tony Finau, who watched the round unfold on television after missing the cut, saw the gravity in Fowler’s joking.

“As I watched that transpire, I couldn’t help but think, ‘This is not what the integrity of the game is about,’” Finau said. “He didn’t do anything for that ball to move.”

One player’s mishap is another’s teachable moment. An L.P.G.A. rules official disseminated the video of Fowler playing the hole, noting that he could have avoided the second penalty by making his first two drops, then using a tee to mark the spot where he intended to place the ball. After surveying his shot, he could have then replaced the tee with his ball before taking his shot.

Image

Rickie Fowler criticized the updated caddie-alignment rule during the Phoenix Open last month, saying it wouldn’t help with “growing the game.”CreditMichael Reaves/Getty Images

Breaking up the sequence of drop-drop-place like that was illuminating to Lincicome: “I didn’t even know that was a thing,” she said.

Another new wrinkle on the course this year is using the flagstick as a backboard on putts; to speed up play, golfers can leave the pin in no matter where they are on the course, including the green. Anticipating the outcome, Bryson DeChambeau said last year, “The U.S.G.A.’s going to have to go back on that one, like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!’”

It sure has seemed that way to Scott, who ranked 165th on tour in 2018 in strokes-gained putting. Putting with the flagstick in the hole, he is ranked No. 26. “To be honest,” Scott said, “it almost changes the whole aim of the game. It’s to hit the pin, not hole the putt.”

He added, “It takes speed out of your head so much. It even takes some reading of the green out.”

DeChambeau has a point. The game’s governing bodies might be eager to simplify the rules, but their intent was never to make the game easier.

And, in the end, have they really simplified anything?

When Scott looks at the remaining layers of rules as well as the lingering and newfound confusion, he, like Fowler, wonders how it is growing the game. Imagine picking up an unfamiliar board game, he said, and opening the box to find 84 pages of rules. Would you bother playing it?

Now picture the same game, with only five or six rules to learn to start out. Which version would you find more appealing?

“Let’s have all the rules on the back of the scorecard for people to get into the game of golf,” Scott said, adding, “And then as you get playing more you can maybe learn some finer points of this very complex game.”

Though Jay Monahan, the P.G.A. commissioner, said last week that he felt proud of how quickly and nimbly the alignment rule confusion was addressed, Scott disagreed.

“We haven’t had a lot of changes in golf in the history of the game , and we’ve had a lot recently — rules changing weekly in some cases — and it’s crazy,” Scott said.

He added, “I think we’re becoming the laughingstock.”

Golf’s New Rules: Few Players Know Them, Fewer Understand Them - The New York Times was originally posted at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/sports/golf-new-rules.html by

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Kuchar's Caddie Controversy

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February 12, 2019

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Kuchar's Caddie Controversy was originally posted at https://www.golf.com/golf_video/kuchars-caddie-controversy/ by

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