You are only permitted to search for your ball for 3 minutes. Previously this was 5 min. This should help to significantly speed up pace of play.
If you accidentally move the ball while searching for it you will NOT incur a penalty. You will be required to replace the ball to its original position to the best of your ability.
If the ground is soft there is a chance for an embedded ball. Previously you would only get free relief in closely mown areas. You can now take relief from all embedded balls in the general area including semi-rough and rough.
Up until 1984 you had to drop the ball behind you, over your shoulder. Then it changed to drop from shoulder height. Now you have to drop from knee height.
If the ball hits the player or the players equipment he or she will NOT be incurred a penalty. However, this must have happened accidentally.
When striking the ball twice with one swing, now you will NOT incur a penalty stroke. This will only count as one stroke.
Grounding your club at address or taking a practice swing and contacting the sand is still a penalty. However, you will NOT incur a penalty for touching the sand incidentally. An example of this would be leaning on your club or using your club as a cane to enter the bunker.
Previously you were not allowed to touch leaves, twigs, stones and other loose impediments in a hazard. You can now remove loose impediments anywhere without penalty. Please keep in mind that the ball cannot move while removing these items.
Water hazards are now considered penalty areas. Water hazards are now called RED and YELLOW PENALTY AREAS. You are now allowed to ground your club within the red and yellow markers or even in water if you dare to take on the shot.
Until now old pitch marks or old hole plugs. Now nearly all damage on the green can be fixed including spike marks. Natural imperfections are part of the game and cannot be fixed or patted down.
Standing behind the player to help line up shot or putt is no longer permitted.
Hitting the flagstick is now without penalty. This means you can always leave the flag in the hole.
Previously when the ball was wedged between the hole and the flag you needed to remove the flag to allow the ball to fall in the hole. Now the ball has been considered holed if part of the ball is below the lip.
Until now a player could use any club in their bag to determine a club length. Now a club length is defined as the player’s longest club except for their putter.
If the ball lands on the wrong green you are not allowed to play it from there as this will most likely damage the green. Previously the player was allowed to take their stance on the wrong green and the nearest point of relief was on the fringe. Now you are not allowed to take your stance on the green meaning that the ball is usually a bit further from the green.
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