The USGA and the R & A are never done with efforts to improve and clarify the rules of golf. For many years rule changes were introduced every four years. The significant changes that came into effect in 2091 disrupted that four-year cycle, but now in January of 2023 the four-year cycle is back, and some new rules and modifications will go into effect. The number of changes as listed by the ruling bodies totals fifty-seven; fortunately, there are only a few that golfers actually need to know in competitions where an accurate score matters.

  1. The 2019 changes took away most of the situations when a ball could not be substituted; however, it is still not okay to substitute a “putting ball” when you finally get to the green or put an old ball into play during the play of a hole when you’re afraid you won’t be able to clear a pond and you don’t want to lose that nearly new Titleist or replace that ball you just bounced off a tree trunk and you don’t want to finish the hole with a ball that has a yellow smear on it. The change: if a player does make an improper substitution the penalty is now one stroke instead of the general penalty.
  • In 2023 a club damaged other than by abuse may be replaced if done so without delay. With the 2019 rules a damaged club no matter how it was damaged could not be replaced. That was soon seen to be overly restrictive so a model local rule came out allowing replacement for damage other than abuse. Now the rule is set to allow the repair or replacement; no local rule is needed.
  • Remember when Rickie Fowler in the 2019 Waste Management Open chipped a ball too hard and it went over the green into the water? After he properly dropped another ball with a one stroke penalty, he walked up to the green to access his next shot. While doing so the ball that he had dropped rolled back into the water. He got another one stroke penalty and had to drop again. Unfair, bad luck?  In 2023 what will be known as the “Rickie Fowler Rule” goes into effect. Now if a ball after being dropped, placed, or replaced is moved by natural forces (wind, water or gravity) rolls into another part of the course, the ball is to be replaced without penalty. So now if Rickie’s ball rolls into the penalty area after being dropped, he replaces the ball without penalty; however, if the ball just rolls and stays, in this case, in the general area he would play the ball from its new location without penalty.
  • When the 2019 rules first appeared, Rule 11.1b(2) told us that if a putted ball accidentally hits an insect, the player or the club used to make the stroke the stroke was to be replayed. So, if a player had a very short putt that he or she hit too hard and the ball bounced off the flagstick and hit the putter or the player, the shot would be cancelled and the player would try again. Not a good rule!… and almost all golf associations adopted a quickly written model local rule that made the stroke count without a replay. Now the rule is written saying that if such a scenario happens, the stroke counts and the ball is played as it lies. No local rule is needed.
  • When using the back on the line relief procedure (most commonly for an unplayable ball or one of the two options for relief from a yellow penalty area) the relief area is now one club length in any direction from where the ball first touches the ground. Before, the ball could not bounce forward from where it first hit the ground. To prevent a penalty for even a miniscule bounce forward the ball, as stated, can bounce in any direction within one club length.

There are many other changes. Most will be rare or unlikely occurrences. We’ll bring them to the attention of the curious in later articles. Play well and enjoy golf in 2023.


Wednesday, August 31st Right after Golf

Join Dan Wettstein (NCGA Certified Rules Clinician) for a Rules Class following golf.
Dan has graciously agreed to hold the Clinic at Davis Muni for our convivence.

If you have specific rules questions you would like answered, please email them to Roberta Paul at by August 24th.

This is a chance to learn rules, protect the field and have a more enjoyable round.

2022 Handicap Tournament

Huge shout out to all 24 ladies that participated in the 2022 Handicap Tournament.
It was a very tight race after the first day and with sweltering heat on the last day we have our winners!!


First Flight:
1st Place: Regina Cortez, 21 Points, $35
2nd Place: Jamie Marks, 20.5 Points, $30
3rd Place: Lynette Temple, 18.5 Points, $25
4th Place Tie: Tracy Van Deynze, 17.5 Points, $10
Liz Hayhoe, 17.5 Points, $10

Second Flight:
1st Place: Angie Cobey, 23 Points, $35
2nd Place: Susan Magill, 22.5 Points $30
3rd Place: Debbi Reinecke, 20 Points, $25
4th Place: Claudia Hammond, 18.5 Points, $20

Third Flight:
1st Place: Pat Wong, 20 Points, $35
2nd Place: Lou Ann Beall, 19 Points, $30
3rd Place: Bo Horgan, 17.5 Points, $25
4th Place: Jan Harlan, 16.5 Points, $20

Judy Wettstein and Cathy O’Malley would like to thank all for participating and making this a successful tournament.

Confusion on Practice Shots during Play

There have been open discussions on when and where you can make practice shots.

Before Play: You may hit balls on the driving range, Chip balls around the Practice Putting Green, and of course putt on the Practice Green.

During Play: Rule 5.5b Between two holes, a player must NOT make a practice stroke with a ball. (Such as using a 3 iron)

Exception: Where Player Allowed to Practice Putting or Chipping:

The player may practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole just completed.
Example: You and your foursome just holed out on a hole. You can practice putting or chipping on that same hole, as long as you are not delaying play.

The teeing area of the next hole. (Not just your first)
Example: Your foursome is waiting to tee off. The foursome ahead of you is still within your range.
You may practice chipping only around the teeing area. If the fairway is clear, you must tee off.

These open discussions after and during play is only reinforcing our knowledge of The Rules of Golf.
Keep it up ladies, if you have any questions, please let me know and our Rules Chair will research and find your answer.