Out of bounds: Golf’s little blue book priceless amid rule changes

‘Player’s edition of the rules of golf’ should be in every bag ahead of January 1st 2019

A view of a bunker at Le Golf National. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

A view of a bunker at Le Golf National. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

You might have noticed the arrival of a little blue book which, from my experience at various golf clubs in recent times, are strategically placed in handy containers: either in the reception area, or in locker-rooms. Wherever you find it, the book is a valuable source of information for players on the upcoming changes in the Rules of Golf.

The clock is ticking down to those changes, which come into play on January 1st 2019. In this instance, the R&A - in association with Rolex, sponsors of the book - deserve credit for getting the word out so soon and, even more so, for the player friendly format used to explain the rules, many with colour illustrations, diagrams and charts.

In effect, it is a pocket-sized abridged version of the Rules of Golf. It should be in everyone’s bag!

Unlike the full Rules of Golf which are mainly aimed at administrators, this ‘Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf’ contains under half of the content of the full rules and is the first of its kind. It should be a go-to tool for anyone in doubt about how to proceed with a possible rules infringement and it certainly won’t slow down your round: the editing and layout ensures that it is possible to go quickly and straight to the rule in question.

As an example, let’s say you put your approach shot into a bunker and, literally, have an impossible lie. You can’t play it. What are your options? The alphabetical index at the back of the book - Bunkers, unplayable ball - will refer you to Rule 19-3. It will tell you (with colour graphic as a help) that you have four options:

(1) For one penalty stroke, the player may take stroke and distance relief.

(2) For one penalty stroke, the player may take back-on-the-line relief in the bunker.

(3) For one penalty stroke, the player may take lateral relief in the bunker.

(4) For a total of two penalty strokes, the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball.

As has been flagged, a number of rule changes come into effect on January 1st and this book includes these new rules, among them illustrations of the correct way to drop the ball (from knee height - the height of your knee when in a standing position).

The Rules of Golf are a potential minefield which require a lot of tip-toeing around; this player’s edition of the rules simplify the entire process and, in truth, everyone who plays golf should make a point of picking up the book, reading it . . . and putting it into a pocket in your golf bag! No excuses!

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