Hello and welcome, my name is Yves Ton-That from Expert Golf and today I’ll give you an overview of the rules changes for 2019. You may have heard that new rules apply from 2019. In this video, I’ll be giving you a summary of the twenty most important changes. If you think they are hard to remember, please check out my “Golf Rules Quick Reference” which contains a summary of these changes as well as all other applicable rules. That way you always have them with you on the course for easy reference. And now let’s take a look at the changes. From 2019, you only have 3 minutes to search for a ball. Previously, it was 5 minutes. Please take a quick look at your watch before you start the search as this will speed up the game considerably. When you’re looking for your ball in high grass you might accidentally tread on it and move it. You used to get a penalty for doing so, now there is no longer a penalty for this. The ball must be put back. If the ground is wet the ball may become embedded in the ground when it lands. Until now, you only got relief from embedded balls in closely-mown areas, like the fairway and the fringe. Now, you can take a free drop from all embedded balls in the general area, including in the semi-rough and rough. Until now, the player could use any of his clubs to measure out club-lengths. Now a club-length is defined as the player’s longest club, except for his putter. Until 1984, you had to drop backwards over your shoulder. Then from shoulder height. Now you have to drop from knee height. If you drop from shoulder height out of habit, don’t worry, just pick the ball up and drop it again correctly, without penalty. If the ball lands on the wrong green you are not allowed to play it from there as this would most likely damage the green. Previously, the player was allowed to take his stance on the wrong green and the nearest point of relief was always on the fringe. Now, you’re also not allowed to stand on the wrong green, meaning that the spot for dropping is usually a bit further away from the green. If the player hits himself or his own equipment this used to result in a one stroke penalty. Now there’s no penalty. However, it must have happened accidentally. You’re not allowed to use your equipment or a foot as a ball stopper. If your club gets stuck when you play a shot and you hit the ball more than once you used to incur one penalty stroke. Now there is no penalty and the double hit just counts as one stroke. In a bunker, the condition of the sand must not be tested before the stroke is played, the club must not be grounded behind the ball and you’re not permitted to touch the sand during practice swings. This is still the case from 2019. But the rules are more relaxed when it comes to touching the sand incidentally. For instance, marks can be smoothed out as long as they’re not on the line of play and you’re now also permitted to lean on a club, for example. Previously, you were not allowed to touch twigs, leaves, stones, branches and other loose impediments in hazards. Now, they can be removed anywhere, including in bunkers and penalty areas, which is what water hazards are called from 2019. Please bear in mind that the ball is still not supposed to move when removing loose impediments. Otherwise it must be put back and one penalty stroke is incurred. If you declare your ball unplayable in a bunker, you used to have three dropping options, each incurring one penalty stroke. The ball usually had to be dropped in the bunker, unless you returned to the spot where you played your last stroke, whereby you lost the entire distance of that stroke. Now, there’s a fourth option available. You can drop the ball directly behind the bunker but this will then cost you two penalty strokes instead of just one. Water hazards are now called penalty areas and no longer have to contain water. This means that golf clubs are free to mark other zones as penalty areas to enable players to take a sideways drop and thus speed up the game. If you decide to play the ball from a penalty area this is now significantly simpler, because you are allowed to ground the club. You can even set it down behind the ball in the water. Well, let’s see if it really makes playing out of water easier. If you mark your ball on the green and then put it back – and it moves either by itself or by wind, it no longer has to be played from the new spot. It has to be put back again. Previously, accidentally moving the ball on the green was already without penalty in lots of cases. Now this type of mishap is without penalty all the time. It doesn’t matter whether the club slips out of your hand or you make a practice swing too close to the ball and the ball moves as a result – just put the ball back without penalty. Until now, you weren’t allowed to repair the line of putt, apart from a few exceptions such as pitch marks and old hole plugs. Now, nearly all damage on the green can be repaired, including spike marks. But this isn’t free licence to smooth out the entire line of putt, as natural imperfections are part of the game. Some players have the habit of laying the club down on the ground to line up their shot. The new rules state that this is no longer allowed. This rule change mainly affects professionals. On TV you have no doubt seen caddies kneeling behind their player to help them line up the putt. This is no longer allowed and will hopefully speed up the game. The most major rule change in my opinion concerns the flag. Hitting the flagstick is now without penalty, which means you can always leave the flag in the hole. Previously, the flag had to be removed in this case to let the ball fall into the hole. Now, the ball is classed as having been holed if part of the ball is below the lip. This ball is therefore already holed and I can pick it up. This was a summary of the twenty most important rules changes that are valid from January 1st, 2019. If you have the “Golf Rules Quick Reference” with you during the round, you don’t have to remember anything of that because you will be able to answer all rules questions in a matter of seconds. Just open the index tab that corresponds to the location of your ball, use the headings and illustrations to find your rules situation and the solution is right there. By the way, this is also available as an iPhone app called iGolfrules. If you find this video helpful please register with expertgolf.com. You will then automatically be notified if a new video goes online and we will keep you up-to-date about all future rules changes free of charge. Thanks for watching, enjoy your golf and see you soon.