In 2019, the USGA and R&A updated and modernized the Rules of Golf with the biggest overhaul seen in decades. The changes came in the form of a complete reorganization of the book in an effort to make the Rules easier to understand and apply. The governing bodies are now back to their normal cycle of making changes every four years. January 1, 2023 marks the first change to the Rules since the 2019 release. While most of the changes might seem minor to the recreational player, there are some key changes all golfers should know.
One significant change to the Rules of Golf in 2023 is the addition of Rule 25 – Modifications for Players with Disabilities. In 2022, the USGA created its newest championship with the addition of the Adaptive Open held in Pinehurst, NC. The event was a massive success and a special week for all those involved. Previously, these modifications to the Rules were treated as a Local Rule that a committee could adopt for a specific championship. Now that this Rule has been put in place, the modifications apply to all competitions, and include all forms of play.
Rule 25 provides modifications to certain Rules to allow players with specific disabilities to play fairly not only with other players that have disabilities, but also against players with no disabilities. Some of the modifications within this rule include:
- Players being allowed to receive help from an Aide as well as a caddie.
- Additional assistance in lining up to make a stroke that might otherwise be prohibited.
- Modifications to who is permitted to lift or drop, place or replace a ball under the Rules.
- Modification to 4 club-lengths instead of 2 when using the lateral relief option for penalty areas or an unplayable for players who use an assistive mobility device.
Not all of these modifications apply to every player with a disability. The rule is broken into four parts for four different categories of disability. The governing bodies recognize that there are additional types of disabilities that are not specifically addressed in the new Rule 25, however that could change moving forward.
The 2023 U.S. Adaptive Open is set for July 10-12 and will once again be held in Pinehurst, NC. Questions regarding the process to volunteer to be part of this championship can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The addition of Rule 25 into the 2023 Rules is a great step in the continued effort to make the game we all love more inclusive.
For more information and helpful videos about the Rules of Golf please visit https://rules.usga.org/rules-education/.