Handicap & Rules

Summary of Golf Rules Changes

We all know that a golfer is expected to know the rules, but because there are many changes made in 2019 to the rules of golf, we thought it would be helpful to summarize these changes.

When things happen to your ball in play:

Accidentally moving ball while searching for it – no longer a penalty

Accidently moving your ball or marker while on putting green – no longer a penalty

Accidently hitting your ball more than once during a stroke – no longer a penalty

Accidently hitting your equipment, caddie, flagstick or yourself with your ball – no longer a penalty

When required to drop a ball where you are not certain of its exact spot, instead of dropping you will now place it

Lost ball – 3 minute search period only

Taking relief:

Dropping – drop from knee height. Measuring relief area – use longest club in bag except putter. Once relief area established – ball must be dropped and played from this area.

Embedded ball – relief allowed anywhere in the “general area” of the course (used to be “through the green”) not just the fairway

Substituting ball – you can use your original or a substituted ball any time you take relief

Specific rules for specific areas of the course

Putting green:  You may putt with the flagstick left in the hole.  You may repair almost all damage to the green.  You may touch your line of putt.  If your ball moves after lifting and replacing, for whatever reason, you must replace it. Your caddie may mark and lift your ball without permission.

Penalty areas (marked with yellow or red stakes/lines): May be expanded to include deserts, jungles, bush, lava, etc. No longer allowed relief on “opposite side” of penalty area.  May remove or touch loose impediments in a penalty area

Bunkers: You may touch and remove loose impediments. You may touch the sand with your club, but not while making a practice swing or backswing.  If your ball is unplayable in a bunker you may take relief outside the bunker, penalizing yourself 2 strokes


You may continue to play with a damaged club.  You may not replace a damaged club.  You may replace a ball that has become “cut or cracked.” You may use a range finder or a GPS, unless a local rule forbids it (this is the reverse of the current rule)

Pace of play

Encouraged to play ready golf (its always been allowed.)  New “Maximum score” format for stroke play, so you can pick up and move on.  Expanding penalty areas, simplified dropping procedures, option to leave flagstick in hole while putting (see above)


Conduct and Integrity

Its no longer required to announce when you are going to lift your ball.  When you need to estimate or measure a spot, point, line or other location, your reasonable judgment will not be second guessed based on later evidence provided you did all that could be reasonably be expected under the circumstances

Your Handicap/Rules committee hopes that this information is useful.  If you have any questions please approach one of us. However, you can probably find the answer by going to one of the following websites, which have much more information on the changes to the Rules of Golf that space permits here




Supplementary Local Rules
Play is governed by Golf Canada’s 2019 Rules of Golf and by the following supplementary local rules.
1. Out of Bounds: is marked by a combination of white stakes and boundary posts. A ball that
crosses Memorial Avenue, defined as out of bounds, and comes to rest beyond that road is out
of bounds even though it may lie on another part of the course. The clubhouse, patio, parking
lot and maintenance compound are out of bounds.
2. Immovable Obstructions: Includes all cart paths, maintenance roads, metal fences, garden
areas surrounded by obstructions and stairs, including hand railings. Worn extensions to cart
paths are part of the immovable obstruction. Relief under Rule 16.1.
The “barber poles” on Hole # 1/10 are immovable obstructions. If a player’s ball lies within 10 yards
of one of these obstructions and there is interference on line of play, player may drop the ball
within one club length, no closer to the hole, of the nearest point where interference from the
obstruction does not exist, with no penalty.
3. No Play Zone: Flower gardens and the turf nursery between holes 1/10 and 2/11 are no play
zones that are to be treated as ground under repair. Player MUST take free relief under Rule
4. Hole #5/14 No Play Zone: is defined by green topped red stakes and is also a penalty area.
Entering the no play zone or playing a ball within the no play zone is strictly PROHIBITED.
Penalty relief (one stroke) MUST be taken (Rule 17.1d – Relief for ball in penalty area). As
another option in casual play only (must not be used if playing in a tournament or posting of scores on Golf Canada Handicap), relief may be taken by using the drop area provided on the
green side of the no play zone, under penalty of one stroke.  If a player omits the hole or uses the drop zoneand they wish to post the score on Golf Canada they must take their maximum scorenot a hole not played.  A “hole not played” is due to reasons other than the player not wanting a high score and is rated as par plus;  that is if a player gets a stroke they mark of 4 and if they get 2 strokes they get a 5.
5. Protection of Young Trees (staked or fenced): If a player’s ball lies anywhere on the course
other than in a penalty area, and if such a tree interferes with a player’s stance or the area of
intended swing, the player MUST take (free) relief under Rule 16.1f
6. Exposed tree roots: If a player’s ball is at rest in a portion of the general area cut to fairway
height or less and there is interference from exposed tree roots (lie and swing only, not
stance,) the player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b
7. Animal hoof damage: Damage that is clearly identifiable as having been caused by animal
hoofs is ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1
8. Alternative to Stroke and Distance penalty for Out of Bounds or Lost Ball: See separate
sheet entitled Supplementary Local Rule 8
9. Penalty Areas: marked by red stakes
Penalty for a breach of a Local Rule is the general penalty.
The following is a recommendation only, not a local rule