2019 USGA Rules Changes

2019 USGA Rules Changes

The new rules are now in effect! Click Here to view a video on the 20 most important new rules. These rules are now in effect for Sun City Texas.

Local Rules

Alternative to Stroke & Distance Penalty

For a ball hit out of bounds or lost, the following is a local rule alternative to taking a stroke and distance penalty and replaying the shot. After determining, by consensus of the group, where a ball went out of bounds or, if lost, was last seen, a ball may be dropped on the fairway, at the fairway’s closest point and no closer to the hole, with a penalty of two shots.

Additional Local Rules

  • A decomposed granite (DG) area is to be considered an immovable obstruction. If a ball comes to rest in a DG area it may be played as it lies or a free drop taken outside the DG area. The free drop, if taken, must be at the point of nearest relief, no closer to the hole.
  • An embedded rock, not in a hazard, is to be considered an immovable obstruction. If an embedded rock interferes with stance, lie, swing, or intended direction of shot, free relief may be taken. The free drop, if taken, must be at the point of nearest relief, no closer to the hole. Please note, the nearest point of relief is not always going to be towards the fairway, and may actually be in a worse position (example: behind a tree).

Maximum Score / Equitable Stroke Control

Among the many changes to the USGA Rules of Golf that became effective January 1st is the concept of “Maximum Score” and, by extension, a change to Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) calculations.

For Sun City golfers, the Maximum Score on a given hole will be that score that nets the golfer, based on his or her handicap, a net double bogey. For example, on a par 4 the Maximum Score could be a 6, 7, 8 or 9, depending on whether the golfer receives zero, 1, 2 or 3 handicap strokes on that particular hole.

When a player reaches his or her Maximum Score, he or she is encouraged to “pick-up”. Players can, of course continue to play out the hole beyond their Maximum Score, but are encouraged not to do so, especially if the course is crowded or if there are any issues with pace of play.

For entering golf round scores into the GHIN system, the Maximum Score is the ESC score that must be part of the calculation of the total score for the round. For example, if a golfer chooses to play beyond his or her Maximum Score and, say, takes an 8 whereas his or her maximum score is a 7, the total score for the round must be reduced by 1 before entering the score into GHIN.

The USGA Maximum Score concept is not intended for elite play, but is applicable for day-to-day play and can be adopted by Sun City golf clubs for their weekly playdays and periodic tournaments. To the extent Sun City golf clubs choose to observe Maximum Score, “picking up” and recording a Maximum Score on a given hole does not disqualify a golfer from an event or tournament.