The R&A's new rules of golf will come into effect on 1 January 2019. Here's everything you need to know about the most important changes and how it will impact your game. 

The R&A New Rules of Golf 2019

The R&A's new rules of golf will come into effect on 1 January 2019. Here's everything you need to know about the most important changes and how it will impact your game.

The majority of the changes have been implemented to speed up the game, which we're definitely in favour of. Here are 20 of the most important changes:

1. Three minutes to look for your golf ball: This has changed from five minutes in an effort to speed up the game for everyone.

2. No penalty for a ball moved during search: Have you ever accidentally kicked your ball when you're looking for it in the long grass? Well, that used to cost you a shot, but in 2019, they'll be no penalty. You'll just have to return your ball to its original spot.

3. Relief from an embedded ball through the green: You used to only be able to take relief from an embedded ball when you were on the fairway, but from January you'll be able to take free relief in the rough too.

4. A 'club length' is defined as the length of the longest club in your bag: At the moment when you drop the ball you should use the club that you intend to hit, but next year a club length will be defined as the longest club in your bag (every little helps when you're taking a drop you know!), except for your putter.

5. Drop from knee height: Instead of dropping the ball from shoulder height when you take relief, you'll soon only have to drop from knee height.

6. Take full relief from the wrong green: If your ball ends up on the wrong green, you'll have to take full relief before you play your next shot, meaning that you can't even stand on the putting surface.

7. No penalty for hitting yourself or equipment: This used to result in a one-shot penalty, but from 2019 you won't incur any penalties at all as long as it's happened accidentally.

8. A double hit counts as one shot: This is a really good rule change for beginners.

9. Touching sand in a bunker is permitted: You can't ground your club before you hit your shot in a bunker and you can't touch the sand when you take a practice swing, but the rules are much more relaxed for touching the sand incidentally.

10. Loose impediments can be removed anywhere: This one's pretty self-explanatory and a change that we're very much in favour of.

11. Two penalty shots for dropping the ball out of a bunker: If you land in a bunker and have to take relief out of it, it will now cost you two shots.

12. Penalty areas: Water hazards are now called penalty areas and they no longer have to contain water.

13. You can ground your club in a penalty area: If you decide to play the ball from a penalty area, it will be much easier in 2019 as you'll be allowed to ground your club.

14. Replace your ball if it moves on the green: If your ball moves after it's been marked, you can just replace it without penalty.

15. And the same if you move the ball accidentally: Have you accidentally hit the ball on the green whilst you've been taking a practice stroke? Well, now you can replace it without penalty.

16. You can repair all damage on the green: You'll be able to repair all of those tiny little marks and scuffs that previously you couldn't touch.

17. Positioning your club for alignment isn't permitted: This is all about speeding up the game.

18. And your caddie can't help with your alignment either.

19. Hitting the flag on the putting green is permitted: And it won't cost you a shot.

20. If the ball wedges between the hole and the flag it is deemed as holed: Wahoo!

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