Historical Perspective

How the Rules of Golf are Revised

Ever since the first known written Rules of Golf in 1744, continuous revision and updating of the Rules has been one of the enduring traditions in golf. (See our background paper  A Brief History of Revisions to the Rules of Golf: 1744 to 2016.) The USGA and The R&A became the governing bodies for the Rules in the 1890s, and since 1952 we have together produced a single set of Rules for golfers everywhere. Our individual Rules of Golf Committees and our Joint Rules Committee meet several times each year to consider changes. We normally revise the Rules of Golf every four years and the Decisions on the Rules of Golf (our interpretive guidance) every two years. The 2016 editions of the Rules and Decisions are now in effect and will continue to be in effect until 31 December 2018.

These regular processes tend to focus on individual issues, but there also are times when we step back to look at the Rules from a broader perspective. Such fundamental reviews led to the first consolidated Rules code in 1899, a major Rules revision in 1934, the first unified R&A/USGA Rules code in 1952, and a full reorganisation of the Rules in 1984. Each fundamental review had its own motivations and goals, but the common thread was that the time had come for a major review and revision of the Rules. This is such a time.