Written by: Doug Sullivan, Director of Course Rating
Over the past several weeks, you have received information regarding the new USGA Rules of Golf that take effect in 2019. Hopefully, this information has raised your awareness of some of the changes that will go into effect on Jan. 1. For example, the term “water hazard” will be replaced by the expanded concept of “penalty areas,” which provides the same basic relief options that currently exist. To accommodate the new definition and use of penalty areas, the USGA Course Rating System™ will be updated to address how it identifies and evaluates these areas going forward.
After Jan. 1, 2019, the broader use of penalty areas will allow Committees greater flexibility to address the variety of settings in which golf is played. For example, a penalty area can contain water and provide relief from areas like existing water hazards. The Committee can also define any other part of the course as a penalty area where relief should incur a one-stroke penalty, such as Native Areas, Desert, etc.
To help explain the impact of the new Rules on your club’s ratings, please review the following FAQs:
Q. What research has been conducted to show what effects the new Rules will have on ratings?
A. In preparation for the introduction of the new Rules, data was collected at clubs around the world for two years.Test results have positioned the SCGA to be able to address ratings and the variety of ways that courses can be marked under the 2019 Rules of Golf.
Q. How will our ratings be affected by changing areas of our course currently not identified as anything other than through the green to penalty areas?
A. That answer depends on the number of holes that are being changed to penalty areas. As noted above, water hazards will simply fall under the category of penalty areas so that change will have no effect on ratings. Also, there will be no impact on ratings if a club adopts the new optional local rule under the Out of Bounds stroke and distance penalty.
Furthermore, if your club decides to utilize penalty areas on just a few holes, there probably won’t be a change in the Ratings. If, however, your club decides to identify desert areas or areas containing native grasses surrounding many of the holes as penalty areas, there could be a small change in the Ratings.
Q. How do we know if changing certain areas on our course to penalty areas will affect our Ratings? How do we get our ratings updated?
A. Contact the SCGA by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A survey will be made available for a club representative to complete which will identify, on a hole-by-hole basis, which areas on your course are being changed to penalty areas. Upon receipt of the completed survey, the SCGA will be able to determine whether the Ratings need to be updated and if so, by how much.
Q. Does our course have to be “re-rated” based on the new Rules?
A. No. It will not be necessary for the SCGA to visit your course to perform a full re-rating. Rather, we will be able to update your ratings based on the information you provide along with an analysis of the data gathered at our most recent rating.
Q. Can our club utilize the new Rules prior to 2019?
A. No. Clubs cannot utilize the new Rules until Jan. 1, 2019. Scores made under the new Rules prior to 2019 are not acceptable for handicap purposes and therefore, must not be posted.
Q. How can I find out more information on the new Rules?
A. Click on the following link for more information: 2019 Rules