It’s been brewing for almost 10 months and now it’s finally here.
No, it’s not a new beer but it’s almost as good and it’s something that could certainly be paired with a cold one.
Worldwide changes to the game of golf have been officially ushered in as of January 1 and Wagga’s fairway bandits would do well to read up on the new laws, which are largely focused on speeding up the game.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in the United Kingdom and United States Golf Association last year firmed on a series of global changes that will see, among others, shot times and time allocated to find lost or out-of-bounds balls reduced.
Wagga City Golf Club pro Tim Barlow has been reading up on the new regulations and believes it’s a positive step for the game.
“It’s basically all about speeding things up and I think that’s a good goal,” Barlow said.
“A few of the bigger changes are those ones concerning shot time and reducing the time you’ve got to find your ball from five minutes to three minutes.
“The changes might not seem like much but all those little things add up and can add up to half an hour when you’re going around an 18-hole course.”
Barlow also pointed to the shift in green rules and a relaxed stance on removing obstructions as positives.
Under the new laws, players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed.
Similarly, there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
“A lot of it is just trying to make things easier out there on the course,” Barlow said.
“Some of the rules are opt-in opt-out for clubs and players too, so it’s not like there’s massive changes.
“Our course is already fairly quick to get around but you’d probably shave an extra quarter hour off with the new timed rules.”
Other major proposals and changes also include the elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties, removing the penalty for a double hit, increasing the golfers’ relief area through the use of a non-putting club and relying more on player integrity.
A statement provided by Golf Australia in March last year said the it had been a lengthy process.
“The process to modernise the rules of golf 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,” the statement reads.
The rule changes will be felt more keenly at larger clubs like Wagga City and Wagga Country Club.