With major changes in store for the rules of golf next year, expect to see some changes in the way the game is played.
Take Bryson DeChambeau. The Tour’s inveterate tinkerer says that he intends to putt with the flagstick in, a new allowance in the guidelines as of 2019.
DeChambeau is a thinker, which got us thinking. How can ordinary golfers take advantage of the revised guidelines? Here are 9 ways you can use the new rules to lower your scores.
After the big ball drops on New Year’s eve, there’s no need to drop the little one from shoulder level. When you’re taking relief, the new rules will allow you to drop from knee-height. Basic physics tells us that you’ll have a better chance at drawing a friendly lie.
It used to be that when your ball plugged in the rough, you were doomed to play it, unless a local rule permitted free relief. Lucky you. That’s been flip-flopped. You can now remove your ball from the crater where it sits, UNLESS a local rule states otherwise.
Under the new Rules, you can dislodge an embedded ball even if it’s not in the fairway.
How many times have you blamed a spike mark for a missed putt? Well, no more excuses, real or imaginary. Spike Marks. Footprints. Indentations from a club or other equipment. Repairing ALL that damage is now allowed.
Who hasn’t had this happen? With an errant putting stroke or some other on-course oops, you inadvertently set your ball in motion. Bad for your psyche. And, under the old rules, bad for your score because it carried penalty. Relax, everybody. As of 2019, if you do a DJ, no harm done.
Under the old rules, you could spend a lifetime trying to extricate yourself from a buried lie in a bunker. Not anymore. The new rules now allow you to drop outside the sand, and even though that comes with a two-stroke penalty, think of all the time (and shots) you’ll save.
Hate the look of this lie? Take a drop instead!
If you like playing quickly, you know what happens when you’re paired with a slow partner. Your heart rate rises, and so does your score. Good news is, the new rules give you leverage. They encourage “ready golf” and urge that strokes be made in no more than 40 seconds. Feel free to invoke them to keep play moving. If that stresses out your sluggish partner, well, turn-about is fair play.
Leaves and pebbles in the sand can be more than distractions. They can be outright disruptions to the shot you want to hit. Rest easy, friends. Under the new rules, you can move loose impediments in bunker, which should give you better odds of getting up and down.
Pulling a TC Chen (that is, striking the ball twice with a single swing) is punishment enough, so under the new rules, there’s no longer an added penalty shot if you do it. Hate to break it to you, though: the double-hit itself still counts as two.
Is there anything worse losing your ball and marching back to the spot where you started, only to bang another one into oblivion. Well, no more. Under a local rule, implemented earlier this year, committees can now give you the option of dropping on the line where your ball went missing. Yes, you’ll incur a two-stroke penalty, but it will spare you the potential for far greater harm.
At one time or another, every golfer becomes what Bobby Jones described as “a dogged victim of inexorable fate.” But certain moments leave us more victimized than others. In that uplifting spirit, we give you this list. It’s our ranking of the 13 most demoralizing shots in the game.
1. The Hero-to-Zero Fairway Wood
It’s a reachable par-five, in theory, anyway, so you wait … and wait … for the green to clear, peeving off the group behind you while putting added pressure on yourself. Sure enough, you top it roughly eight feet ahead of you, the only good news being that the green is also reachable from there.
2. The De-Greener
Did you just putt it off the green? Don’t feel bad. Tiger Woods once did the same thing in the Masters. All that’s left for you to do is win 14 majors, and you and he will practically be twins.
3. The New York Super Fudge Chunk
On the one hand, the world’s best players also take divots with their irons. On the other, their divots don’t fly farther than the ball.
4. The Hosel Rocket
Call it what you will. The shank. The foozle. By any name, it’s a word you’d rather not speak aloud, and an experience you now fear you are doomed to repeat.
Even Tiger Woods (shown here at the 2010 Ryder Cup) is not immune to an occasional hosel rocket.
5. The Bold Effort
In a moment as rare as the Comet Kahoutek, you’ve got 15 feet for eagle, but you leave it 5 feet short. Not to worry. You’ll get another chance the next time the comet comes around.
6. The Lawrence of Arabia Short Game Clinic
Weight forward. Club face open. Feet left of the target. You tried to play the shot like Gary Player. Too bad it caught the bunker lip and rolled back in a footprint. Peter O’Toole had more fun in the sand.
7. The Harrison Ford
When you blade a simple chip, it becomes a runner. Blade. Runner. Get it? It’s funny when it happens to someone else.
8. The Egregious Mis-Club
Look at you posing after flushing your approach shot, hands high, tummy pointing toward the target, your eyes tracking the ball in its majestic flight as it beelines for the flagstick, only to land beyond it. In a pond behind the green.
9. The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Been A Gimme Putt
It should have been conceded, but it wasn’t. Silently disgruntled, simmering with resentment, you step up to tap it in and … doph! … It wasn’t a gimme, after all.
10. Here, Topper! Come here, boy!
They say that golf is like life, and it really is. Every round, like every day, begins with renewed hope. Until you top one off the first tee.
11. The Flopped Shot
Phil Mickelson makes those high, feathery shots look so easy. But big deal. That thing that you just did, passing your wedge directly under the ball without budging it an inch, that’s pretty tough to pull off, too.
12. The Player B Water Ball
Having just dunked an old, scruffy ball into the water, you pull out a brand new ProV1 and … do exactly the same thing.
13. The Not-So Great Escape
Trees are 90 percent air. Which makes it all the more impressive that you just hit the other 10 percent, dead center off the trunk, a ricochet that whizzes past your ear and leaves you even deeper in the woods.