CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 20: Jordan Spieth of the United States discusses a ruling with a referee on the 12th hole during round two of the Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 20, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/R

The Rules of Golf are getting a major update in January 2019 and there are a lot of changes you need to be aware of – here are some of the most important ones…

• It is no longer a penalty for accidentally moving ball during search or moving ball or ball-marker on the green – just replace the ball/marker.

• It is no longer a penalty for a ball in motion accidentally hitting you, your caddie, the person attending the flag or the attended or removed flag

• It is no longer a penalty for a double hit

• The time allowed for searching for your ball has reduced to three minutes (previously five minutes)

• When taking a drop, drop the ball from knee height (previously shoulder height)

• You can now take relief from a ball embedded in its own pitchmark anywhere in the ‘general area’ – the new term for ‘through the green’ (Previously relief was only allowed in the fairway or on the green)

• When a ball has been lifted and replaced on the green then moves for no clear reason, it must be replaced (previously the cause for the movement effected whether the ball should be replaced)

• You can now repair almost any damage (including spike marks and animal damage but not including natural imperfections) on the green

• It is no longer a penalty if a ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole

• It is no longer a penalty if you touch the ground with your hand or club or ground the club in a ‘penalty area’ (the expanded term previously used for water hazards)

• It is no longer a penalty for moving or touching a loose impediment in a bunker or penalty area

• It is no longer a penalty for touching sand in a bunker with your hand or a club (though you cannot touch the sand: with your hand or club to test the conditions of the bunker; while making a practice swing; with the club in the area right behind or in front of the ball or in making the backswing for the stroke)

• A player may now take relief outside the bunker back on the line from the hole through where ball was at rest for 2 penalty strokes (Previously there was no relief outside the bunker other than in playing from where the last stroke was made)

These are just some of the many changes to the Rules of Golf which come into effect on January 1, 2019. For more information on the changes to the Rules refer to the Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf (available in all clubs) or go to