Do You Know The 2008 Rules of Golf?

Have you obtained your new copy of the 2008 Rules of Golf? There are revisions to 28 of the 34 Rules. Fortunately, most of them are to improve the clarity of the Rules. However, there are some reasonably important changes, which you should familiarise yourself with, or risk being caught out on the golf course.

Main Changes to the Rules

Perhaps the change most likely to be encountered by golfers in regular play is the revision to Rule 12-2 allowing a player to lift a ball in a bunker or water hazard for identification purposes. But don’t forget to mark it first and give the opportunity to your fellow competitor, or opponent, to witness the lift. There is a consequential change to Rule 15-3, which introduces the normal penalty of two strokes for playing a wrong ball out of a hazard, whereas before there was no penalty as long as you rectified the situation by continuing with the original ball. There is an exception in that there is no penalty if a competitor makes a stroke at a wrong ball that is moving in water in a water hazard.

In a revision to Rule 19-2 the penalty for the accidental deflection of the ball by the player, his partner, their caddies or equipment is reduced to one penalty stroke in both match and stroke play. As an example, if your topped drive hits your golf bag, trolley, caddie or foot, you only lose one stroke now instead of two.

Rule 24-1 has been amended to allow a flagstick, whether attended, removed or held up, to be moved when a golf ball is in motion. Whereas before if you thought that a fellow competitor’s bad putt was going to miss the hole and hit the flagstick lying on the green you had to leave it there or suffer the penalty.

Another change is that exchange of information with other players relating to distance. For example, asking a fellow competitor “how far is my ball from the hole” is not now considered as seeking information and not advice (Decision 8-1/2).

Under rule 12-1, there is now no penalty if a ball that is in, or on an obstruction, is moved during search. Previously, this only applied to abnormal ground conditions.

A revision to Rule 4-1 reduces the penalty for carrying, but not using, a non-conforming club from disqualification to, in stroke play, a penalty of two strokes per hole, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. In match play, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred, with a maximum penalty of two holes per round.

Non-Conforming Clubs

The reason why the latter change relating to non-conforming clubs is more relevant is that January 1st 2008 is the date that players in all types of competition are prohibited from using driving clubs with spring effect, which exceed the limit set forth in a Pendulum Test Protocol established by the R&A and USGA. This should not be a surprise to most readers as this was announced to all golf clubs in August 2002. So, be sure to check your driver if it is more than 4/5 years old. If you are not sure there is a long list of non-conforming drivers, with photos at; you do need to look at the accompanying photos as well, because in some instances the identification marks may not be enough. For example, there is a Callaway ERC on both the conforming list and non-conforming list.

Readers are encouraged to obtain a copy of the new 2008 edition of the Rules of Golf, either the R&A publication or the USGA publication – the Rules are the same. The R&A book now has a very handy ‘Quick Guide to The Rules’ section at the front, which is worth reading, especially if you don’t have the time to study all the Rules. I also recommend that players carry a Rules book with them on the course and to refer to it, whenever necessary. This can certainly help you improve your knowledge of the Rules.

Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

4 Responses to “Do You Know The 2008 Rules of Golf?”

  1. Kit Lefroy says:

    Streaming the rules situations and rulings in “chunks” is a fundamental principle for effective learning. Without question, it increases the probability that we will actually read and learn.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. […] on from my previous blog on the most significant changes to the Rules of Golf, effective since 1st January 2008, I would now […]

  3. Andy Brown says:

    Hi Joseph,

    Many thanks for your interest, please visit:

    and sign up to receive the rules of golf questions and answers either daily, every 2 days, every 4 days or weekly.

    Kind Regards


  4. Pleae send me the rules of golf as stated in your email.


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