This is a first in our new feature called Playing By The Rules.  It’s my pleasure to introduce you to what has become a great friend of mine, Mr. Frank Guastella.  Frank is a Michigan PGA Rules Official and has been contributing to the Ask The Pro Show on Twitter since it started.  He is our “Resident Rules Official” on the show and I can count on him to spread his knowledge of the rules of golf to everyone.  Thank you Frank for your time and effort with this project.  Enjoy!-Mike

After a four year review of the Rules of Golf, the USGA and R&A have completed their study and amended nine principal regulations from the Rules of Golf.  In addition, for the first time, there will be a joint publication of the Rules by both governing bodies.  The changes became effective on January 1, 2012.  For golfers who like to play by the rules, the changes will likely be welcomed for easing penalties and removing ambiguities.

Probably, one of the most anticipated changes was the definition of “Addressing the Ball”.  The revision states that a player has addressed the ball when he has grounded the club immediately in front or immediately behind the ball, whether or not he has taken his stance.  Note that the change does not require the player to place his feet in position for the stroke in order for the ball to be addressed, as was the case in the past.  Also, note that there is no reference to addressing the ball in a hazard when the player has taken his stance.  The omission of this requirement in 2012 infers that a player will never address his ball in a hazard unless he grounds his club, which would result in a two-stroke penalty in a stroke play event or loss of hole in a match play event.  A benefit resulting from this change is that the player who places his feet in position for a stroke from the bunker and then watches as the wind or gravity causes the ball to move from its original position will no longer be penalized one stroke under Rule 18-2b and the player would play the ball where it comes to rest, unless he caused the movement by some other action.  Many times players were penalized and they did not do anything to make the ball move.

Three prominent examples of when a gust of wind influenced a ball at rest were: Padraig Harrington at the 2009 Masters, Fredrik Jacobson at the 2008 British Open and Rory McIroy at the 2011 British Open.  Each was charged a stroke.  Under the revised rule, this would not have happened.

Over the next few months I will cover the remaining changes and revisions so that you can start your season “Playing By the Rules”.

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA

Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf

If you have a question for Frank here’s where you can contact him.

Email:  [email protected]

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