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  • Alistair Tait

Rule Change Will Make Golf Easier

Paul Casey has done golf aficionados the world over a huge favour thanks to his freak incident in the final round of the Players Championship. The R&A and USGA are currently working on revising the Rules of Golf to allow golfers to take preferred lies anywhere on a golf course from the beginning of next year.

Casey’s ball came to rest in another player’s pitch mark on the par-5 16th fairway. He was not entitled to relief, despite the fact he would have been allowed a free drop had it been his own pitch mark. The Englishman couldn’t go for the green in two. He was forced to lay up en route to a third place finish behind Australia’s Cameron Smith.

Sources close to the governing bodies tell me the Casey incident was the cue for a major rethink on bringing in preferred lies on a regular basis to make the game fairer. It’s all part of the R&A and USGA’s aim to take the game to a much wider audience.

From 1st January 2023, “preferred lies” will be in operation everywhere on all golf courses. Current Rule 9.1a, Playing Ball from Where It Came to Rest, reads:

“A player’s ball at rest on the course must be played as it lies…”

While the exact wording hasn’t been decided, R&A sources say a draft of the new rule reads:

“A player’s ball at rest on the course must be played from the lie of the player’s preference…”

Sources have also told me the new rule could be part of a wider package of changes to make the game easier. Included in the suggested changes are:

  • Preferred lies in bunkers

  • Abolishing the stroke and distance rule for shots hit out of bounds

  • Mulligans allowed on every tee

  • Any ball striking the flagstick to be considered “holed”

  • Gimmes for any ball that ends up within a putter’s length of the hole

  • If a ball enters a hazard, players can drop another ball without penalty

The R&A and USGA refused to comment on the proposed changes. A spokesperson said:

“We are happy with the current rules, and do review the laws on a constant basis.”

The Easier Golf Is True Zen (EGITZ) society welcomed the proposed changes. The group, which is based at Burning Bush Golf Club, has been campaigning for simplification of the game for decades. Indeed, EGITZ claimed responsibility for the governing bodies' decision to reduce the laws from 34 to 24 for the 1st of January 2019 edition of the Rules of Golf.

EGITZ Chief Executive I.M.A. Cheete said:

“Golf has been too tough for too long. No way Casey should have had to play that shot at The Players. It was ridiculous. Why should players be allowed preferred lies at certain times and not others, and why just on the fairways?
“In our EGITZ society outings, we allow players to prefer lies anywhere on the golf course and everyone leaves happy. In fact, we would go so far as to say players should be allowed to put the ball on a tee anywhere on the golf course, even on putting greens or in bunkers.
“Think of how many more people would play the game if it was so much easier. EGITZ will continue to campaign to make this great game as simple as possible. This new rule is just the beginning.
"Paul Casey might not have won The Players, but EGITZ believes he’s done the game a massive favour. He will go down in history as one of the saviours of golf.”

The 2019 edition of the Rules of Golf was seen as the biggest alteration to the codes of the game since the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers laid down the original 13 laws in 1744. The new rules currently under consideration will make that rewrite look like a mere blip, and make EGITZ golfers all over the world incredibly happy.

#JustSaying: “What many ordinary golfers don’t know is our golfing ancestors meant for the ball to be in a player’s hand as much as possible.” Former EGITZ CEO Givmea Droppe


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