Why We are Pursuing a Major Revision Now

Revising the Rules and Decisions in a regular cycle allows us to adapt them in response to the ongoing stream of Rules questions from golfers and officials across the game. But such incremental revisions tend to make the Rules and Decisions more and more complex, especially as concepts and exceptions are added in an effort to give a “fair” answer for every situation.

We have heard various concerns about the current Rules, falling into two main categories:

(1) The Rules are Complicated and Their Purpose isn’t Always Clear.

For example:

  • The Rule book contains hundreds of rules and sub-rules, along with a 500+ page Decisions book with many “hidden rules” found in 1200 separate Decisions;
  • Answers are sometimes hard to find, as they may be in any number of places, such as Definitions, Notes, Exceptions, Appendices or one or more Decisions;
  • The Rule book language is dense and complex, which can make it difficult to understand and creates issues for translation into many languages;
  • Some Rule procedures and outcomes are not straightforward or intuitive and their philosophy and approach can seem unclear or inconsistent; and
  • Other Rule outcomes are seen as unfair or reflecting a hyper-technical or “hair splitting” approach that may result in penalties for no obvious purpose.

(2) The Rules Have Limited Relevance to Many Typical Golfers.

These concerns include:

  • Many golfers and other followers of the game do not know the Rules well and do not try to learn them in detail because of their complexity;
  • The Rules can be intimidating or off-putting, especially to younger golfers and those who are not familiar with the game’s traditions;
  • Golf is played all over the world in a wide range of conditions that are not necessarily contemplated or realistically covered by the Rules;
  • The Rules are not as supportive as they could be of efforts to address important issues facing the game, such as pace of play.

We believe that the changes represent real progress in helping to address many of these concerns.