North-east District secretary George Young has given the thumbs up to the most radical changes to the sport of golf for decades.
New rules made by the R&A and the US Golf Association were introduced on January 1, and George stressed the need for all amateurs to become aware of the implications.
George said: “The concept of bringing the rules of golf up to date, to make them more consistent, simple to understand, easy to apply and fair to all, was long overdue.
“I feel the R&A and the USGA have generally achieved that objective.
“The most significant changes are the important rules which golfers will come across more regularly and all are designed to speed up play.
“They include dropping from knee height, search time looking for a ball being reduced to three minutes, and being allowed to remove loose impediments in a bunker.
“Other important changes include being allowed to putt with the pin in, and being able to ground your club, move loose impediments and take a practice swing in relief areas.
“All rules are equally important but if a player is in any doubt he/she should play the ball as it lies.
“It is recommended that players mark the position of their golf ball (preferably with a tee peg) to establish their reference point before taking any relief, then drop the ball in the measured relief area.
“When taking relief, such as from a wrong green, you must take full relief – which means your feet must also be completely off the wrong green before making a stroke.
“Clubs have the option to declare specific areas as penalty areas, however to do so may affect the course rating and SSS, and they should contact their area authority for advice before making changes.
“Clubs can make a local rule to restrict where relief from an embedded ball applies. Clubs can also make a local rule to allow players the option to drop a ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area) under the penalty of two strokes.
“However, to evoke such a local rule may deem the competition non-qualifying for handicap purposes.
“Scottish Golf have two presentations on the new rules for 2019 available to view on their website.
“I would encourage all club administrators to check these out, and get their committee and members to do likewise.”