Are proposed changes driving golf in the right direction?

Dustin Johnson lines up his putt on the 14th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club on Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakmont, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The USGA and R&A proposed 30 changes that would modernize the rules of golf and speed up the game.

According to Golf Digest, those changes include reducing the rules from 34 to 24. They like would go into affect in 2019.

Here are the most significant proposals, according to Golf Digest:

  • Not penalizing a player for accidentally causing a ball or ball marker to move on a putting green.
  • Allowing players to ground a club or move loose impediments in a penalty area (an expanded concept of water hazards that does not include bunkers).
  • Players being allowed to take a drop from any height they choose.
  • Permitting players to repair spike marks on the green.
  • Reducing time to search for a ball from five minutes to three.
  • Letting players leave the flagstick in when putting from on the green.


According to CBS Sports, the first proposed change on that list has to do with what happened at last year’s U.S. Open:

Nobody knew if (Dustin) Johnson’s putter caused his ball to roll backwards. He claims it did not. The USGA said it did. The crux was that it had to be “more likely than not,” or 51 percent certain, which is a crazy way to crown golf major winners. Under the new rules, Johnson would not be held responsible unless it was intentional “or virtually certain” that it was intentional “(meaning at least 95 percent) to be the case.”

“The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon” did an extensive interview with USGA senior director of rules Thomas Pagel. It’s worth a listen:

The Golf Channel’s Randall Mell could not be happier about the proposed changes:

My head already hurts less. The idea that reading the Rules of Golf may no longer bring on dizziness, nausea and other migraine-like symptoms might be the best news the game has received since the USGA legalized steel-shafted golf clubs. We may soon be experiencing a seismic shift in the enjoyment of the sport almost as important to the growth of the game as any equipment innovation. The USGA’s and R&A’s sweeping makeover of its rules proposals is potentially that profound, given how onerous rules complications have become. This modernization of the rulebook feels like it could be some sort of vaccine, a medicinal remedy for the pain that comes with opening that cursed, wretched book.

ESPN got reaction from some players:

Many players took to Twitter to offer their support:

Others are not as excited about a possible altered rulebook, especially the proposed spike rule change:

What do you think? Will the proposed changes improve the sport of golf?

Debate by downloading our app on iOS at or on Android at You also can play online at