A Simpler Writing Style:

There is a deliberate move away from the legalistic drafting style used in previous editions of the Rules. The new writing style uses more commonly used and spoken words. Where possible, shorter sentences, bulleted lists and additional white space are used. The new style also includes more explanatory headings and easier to read formatting. The Rules of Golf are translated into over 30 languages, and we feel that the simpler, more consistent writing style will make the Rules easier to translate for those undertaking this important task. While our goal has been to make the language less complex, we realise that the Rules need to be clear and accurate to ensure consistency of application, and this does create some limitations on how simple the wording in the book can be.

Referring to the Player as “He or She”:

In the current edition of the Rules, the player is referred to as “he” and there is a statement at the front of the book indicating that this should be understood to include both males and females. The new Rules for 2019 are written to refer to “he or she” throughout.

Using Examples to Explain What the Rules Mean and How They Work:

We are adding examples to many of the Rules to help show what is meant by the words. One such instance is in Rule 16.3a where we state:

“A ball is not embedded if it is below the level of the ground as a result of anything other than the player’s previous stroke, such as when:

  • The ball is pushed into the ground by someone stepping on it,
  • The ball is driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne, or
  • The ball was dropped in taking relief under a Rule.”

While providing this type of explanatory text increases the length of the Rules, it makes them easier to read and understand, which is the principal aim.

Using Visual Tools to Explain Key Concepts and Procedures:

Even with a simpler style of writing and the use of examples, some key concepts and procedures in the Rules are not easily explained in words. In recognition of this, the new format will include diagrams and illustrations to deal with common situations that lend themselves to visual explanations, such as identifying the nearest point of complete relief and taking relief for an unplayable ball.

Statement of Purpose of Each Rule:

A statement of purpose will be included to give guidance on the key concepts in each particular Rule. This should help golfers understand the background of the Rule they are reviewing. For example, Rule 12 in the Rules of Golf concerning bunkers has the following statement describing a bunker and reasoning for the special provisions that apply when a ball lies in a bunker: 
Purpose: Rule 12 is a specific Rule for bunkers, which are specially prepared areas intended to test the player’s ability to play a ball from the sand. To make sure the player confronts this challenge, there are some restrictions on touching the sand before the stroke is made and on where relief may be taken for a ball in a bunker.

Embracing Technology:

The number of golfers and referees accessing the Rules of Golf on smart phones, tablets and computers is increasing all the time. We are embracing technology and will present the new Rules on various digital platforms, compatible with various electronic devices.  Even greater use of links, videos and search capabilities will give fast and efficient access to Rules answers and other explanatory material, on and off the course. We also aim to take advantage of technological advances when providing digital resources for the implementation of the new Rules.

Written using International English:

The new Rules have been written using a version of International English that is used by many international organisations including the United Nations and NATO. This will allow the same spelling to be used across all English Rules of Golf publications going forward.