Rules Modernisation: final version

13 03 2018

Yesterday the USGA and the R & A unveiled the new rules of golf to be implemented as of January 1st 2019. There are several changes from the original draft published some months ago.

Below you will find a brief(ish) summary of the new rules, but for a clearer idea you’d be well advised to check out the information (and videos) provided on the USGA and R & A websites ( and

Modernisation of Rules, January 2019

 The R&A and the USGA finalised golf’s new Rules this month after an extensive review that included a request for feedback from the global golf community on the proposed changes.

The process to modernise the Rules began in 2012 and was initiated to ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply for all golfers and to make the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.

While the majority of proposed Rules remain intact in the final version, several important changes to the initial proposals and further clarification of many Rules were incorporated. The most significant adjustments made following review of the feedback received from golfers around the world include:

  • Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).
  • Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement).
  • Removing the penalty for a double hit:  The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball.  (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty).
  • Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions. (Key change:  this is a new addition to support pace of play)

Major proposals introduced in 2017 that have been incorporated into the modernised Rules include:

  • Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.
  • Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
  • Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
  • Relaxed bunker rules: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
  • Relying on player integrity: A player’s “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.
  • Pace-of-play support: Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play.

As you can see, we’re all going to have our work cut out to stay on top of the new rules. Like the changes or not (and in general I have to say I do), these are the rules we’ll be playing by come next January – so get ready!

Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a new handicap system, to be implemented in 2020? I’m just going to have a little lie down…

All da best!

Dave B




Pub Story

8 03 2018



I had to go back to England recently. Wife Julie came with me for two weeks and our children Kate and Joe also came over for a quick four day stay. The occasion was sad – my mum had passed away – but it was wonderful to have the entire Brooker family together including relatives, some of whom hadn’t seen each other for a decade or more.

The day after the funeral the four of us visited some of our old haunts around the picturesque town of Wimborne in Dorset. We decide to have lunch at a pub we used to go to when Kate and Joe were small – the Barley Mow at Colehill. It’s an old thatched country pub dating back to the 16th century. Oliver Cromwell is said to have stayed there on his way to lay siege to the Royalists at Corfe Castle in 1645, and his troops are supposed to have prayed in nearby God’s Blessing Lane before going into battle, but then again every old pub in Dorset has some such tale to tell.

Anyway, we found a free table right next to a roaring log fire and I went up to the bar to order our drinks. There was a notice on the counter asking customers who wanted to run a tab to leave their credit card at the bar. I went to hand over my card, but the landlord – a big, burly chap – told me there was no need. To get the full flavour of what happened next you need to read the following with a Dorset accent (or, if you’re Canadian, a Newfie accent will probably do just as well):

A fellow at a nearby table now addressed himself to me, speaking loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear: ” ‘Ere, mate. You lot are sittin’ in the wrong place. You don’t wanna be sittin’ over by yon fire. You wanna be sittin’ over by the door, so’s you can do a runner.”

I explained that my days of nipping out of pubs without paying were long over and pointed out that the landlord was a lot bigger than me, almost certainly a lot tougher, and that he’d probably kill me if he caught me.

“What, ‘im?” came the scornful reply. “Ken wouldn’t catch you in a month of Sundays. Truth is, that old bastard couldn’t catch a cold, never mind catch you.”

Cue gales of laughter all round, from customers who’d likely heard the same line many times before.

Mum would have loved that story!


All the best.

Dave B.


The many sins of Marina Mahabir

15 01 2018


Now please don’t misunderstand – my friend Marina is a wonderful person. To quote just one of her many admirers: “Marina is a flawless individual with an outstanding taste in men.” (Admittedly that quote is from Wayne, her husband, but even so…)

It’s just that there are a few things Marina won’t put up with. And as Marina and I are in Mexico right now (not just me and Marina, but Wayne as well. Oh and Scottish Wife too, in case this is all getting a bit confusing) Marina needs to make it clear to the local population that there are some things that are just not going to happen.

For example, Marina’s convinced that the water here should never be consumed by tourists, so whenever she orders a drink she says ‘sin hielo’ (‘no ice’). She’s also a keen conservationist, so she’s recently added ‘sin popote’ (‘no straw’) to the order. And, of course, being allergic to various types of sea food she also gives a very firm ‘sin camarones, sin fish’ whenever her meal is being discussed.

So, to sum up, whenever Marina is in Mexico and gets the chance to ‘sin’ – she takes it!

Abrazos, amigos!

Sr. Dave

Something to laugh at…

23 12 2017

No, not my golf game. That would be cruel. Fair, but cruel.

I sent the following message to my golfing buddies a few days ago, just before a layer of permafrost settled over Glacier Greens golf course and ended any lingering hopes I had of re-discovering my game before 2017 drew to a close:

It’s not been a good year for me. In fact, I’ve been playing so badly I had to get my ball retriever re-gripped.

So, to take my mind off my golfing woes, here’s one of the funniest animal voice-overs ever. It’s an oldie, but definitely a goodie:

Merry Christmas and a lovely 2018 to all ye golfers and non-believers alike.


Dave B.


The rules of winter golf (according to Bud)

1 12 2017


The Budmeister gives a tip of the cap to golf’s winter rules (not).

The most venerable member of the Sandbaggers group at Glacier Greens is our good friend Bud Bryan. Being 79 years young, Bud – perhaps understandably – tends not to approve of all these new-fangled ideas in the golfing world. “Women golfers playing on Saturdays? They should stick to Tuesday mornings and leave Saturday Men’s club the way God intended it – for men only.” “Ready golf? Bah! You’ll not catch me stealing a man’s honour.”

So it may come as no surprise that Bud has not exactly embraced the proposed rule changes in golf, scheduled to be implemented in January 2019. It’s been bad enough trying to get him to accept that now the active season is over at Glacier Greens for the year, winter rules are in place to help golfers cope with the tricky conditions. Bud’s position is unwavering: “Lift, clean and place? Lift, clean and cheat, more like. Should never be allowed.”

So here are half a dozen winter golf situations to which Bud’s response is a firm “That’s cheating.” Is he right and, if so, what is the penalty? Answers below:

1. A player walks up to their ball on the fairway, addresses it and plays their stroke without placing it first under the Local Rule.

2. A player’s ball is at rest on the fairway. As they can see no mud, sand or grass cuttings on their ball they use the toe of their club to roll the ball into a grassy lie within the permitted 6 inches.

3. Under the Local Rule, a player has placed their ball immediately next to where it was at rest when they notice that there is still some mud on it. So they mark it again, clean the mud off and replace it at the ball-marker.

4. A player’s ball is at rest on the fairway. They mark and lift it and then place it within 6” on a tuft of grass in the rough, no nearer the hole.

5. Having marked, lifted and cleaned their ball, a player places it not nearer the hole and within 6” of where it lay onto a tuft of grass to the side of a repaired divot. As the player stands up, the ball topples off the tuft into the divot. They bend down and place it back onto the tuft of grass. 

6. A player marks, lifts and cleans their ball and then drops it within 6” of where it lay on the fairway, not nearer the hole.


1. No penalty – you may lift clean and place, but you don’t have to.

2. Oops. The ball should be placed, not rolled with a club. A one stroke penalty.

3. Oops again. Another one stroke penalty. Once you’ve moved the ball it’s in play, so you can’t touch it again.

4. No penalty – you’re not in a hazard or on the green, so you’re within the rules.

5. Double oops! A two stroke penalty. You’ve touched the ball after it should be in play and then played it from the wrong place.

6. Double oops! The rule says ‘lift, clean and place‘, not ‘drop‘. (However, if you realise your mistake before continuing play and correct it, there would be no penalty.)

So in fact Bud was correct 60% of the time. Not bad – but you can save yourself strokes every round this winter if you know all these winter rules.

Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the Budmeister scale and don’t bother about any of those pesky rules. And that’s absolutely fine by me – but, please, not if you’re playing at Glacier Greens in Saturday Men’s club!

All da best.

Bagger D.



Haka challenge

13 11 2017

It’s cold, wet and very windy here in Beautiful B.C. and – not surprisingly – the golf course is closed for the day. I’ve toured the back yard and picked up two garbage cans worth of debris. I’ve spent an hour or so with Scottish Wife sorting out receipts dating back to the dawn of the century. And now I’m on my third cup of (very strong) coffee while I peruse the latest in the world of sport. No golf on TV today (it’s a Monday), no soccer either except Italy v Sweden (and I don’t have that channel), no cricket (the ritual slaughtering of the England team at the hands of the Aussies doesn’t start for a couple of weeks yet). But what’s this? The Rugby League World Cup and a pre-match tête-à-tête between Samoa and Tonga:

Goosebumps, eh?

Dave B.

P.S. I’m trying desperately hard to make a link, however tenuous, with golf and this is the best I can come up with: how about a golf haka at the next Ryder Cup with the teams led by, say, Ian Poulter and Patrick Reed? Now that would get the fans fired up…


The fastest hole in golf

3 11 2017

Last year, at Valderrama in Spain, a team of four French golfers set a world record by completing a 500 yard hole in just four strokes – and in less than 35 seconds!

A few days ago, at the Regnum Carya course in Turkey, the French attempted to defend their title against teams from England and South Africa. This is what happened:

(Just to put this feat into context: my usual foursome at Glacier Greens – and we’re not slow by any means – generally takes just over 3.5 hours to play 18 holes. These guys, at the rate they played this hole, would complete their round in er, just over 10 minutes! Just think of all the extra time that would give them in the bar afterwards!)

Cheers (hic).

Dave B.