The two primary rules making governing bodies of golf, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association, have spent the last five years considering changing the sacrosanct rules of golf, but much to the surprise of everyone, it is simplicity, not more complexity, that has driven the move.
The two institutions are seeking to reduce the number of rules from 34 to 24, which does not sound like a big thing, until the fact that each of the current 34 rules has sub-headings and paragraphs galore, many of which seem to contradict the regulations to the extent that professional players often seek rulings from officials rather than risk inadvertently violating a rule and receiving penalty strokes as the result.
The rule change proposals will now be subjected to six months; roughly the amount of time in takes Vijay Singh to strike a putt, of public review.
If the new rules are adopted, players will no long receive penalty strokes for their ball moving accidentally, grounding their clubs in a hazard, or having a putt strike an untended pin.
The one about the ball accidentally moving seems a direct response to the debacle in last year’s U.S. Open, where Dustin Johnson was told, on the 12th tee, that he may or may not be assessed a penalty for his ball possibly moving on the green of a previous hole.