Hitting the flagstick (Rule 13)
Previously, the flag had to be tended or removed as the ball was not allowed to hit it when putted.
Now, hitting the flagstick is without penalty, which means you can always leave the flag in the hole.
Good to know: Statistically speaking, it is better to always leave the flag in the hole as the flagstick helps to hole out.
No help from the caddie to line up the shot (Rule 10)
Previously, the player was allowed to get help from his caddie, for example to line up the putt.
Now, the caddie is no longer permitted to stand behind the player and help him to line up.
Good to know: This rule change mainly affects professionals and is of little interest to the average club golfer.
Wrong green (Rule 13)
If the ball lands on the wrong green, playing it from there is not allowed, as this would most likely damage the green. However, if the ball only lands near the wrong green the player was previously permitted to stand on the wrong green to play his ball.
Now, you also have to take a free drop if you would have to take your stance on the wrong green.
Good to know: The spot for dropping is therefore now usually a bit further away from the green.
Ball moves on the green after being marked and put back (Rule 13)
Previously, the ball had to be played from the new spot if it moved either by itself or due to the wind after being marked and put back.
Now, you have to put the ball back.
Good to know: Most players already used to put the ball back out of reflex – even though this was incorrect. The new rule is thus in line with natural instinct.
Ball on the green moved accidentally by the player (Rule 13)
Previously, accidentally moving the ball on the green was only without penalty with certain exceptions.
Now, a mishap such as this is without penalty in all cases on the green.
Good to know: If, for example, your club slips out of your hand or you make a practice swing too close to the ball and your ball moves as a result – just put the ball back without penalty.
Repairing damage on the green (Rule 13)
Previously, repairing the line of putt was not allowed, apart from a few exceptions such as pitch marks and old hole plugs.
Now, you are permitted to repair nearly all damage on the green, including spike marks.
Good to know: But this is not free licence to smooth out the entire line of putt, as natural imperfections are part of the game.
No positioning the club to help line up the shot (Rule 10)
Previously, laying the putter down on the green to line up your shot, for example, was permitted.
Now, you are no longer allowed to position your club to help you line up your stance.
Good to know: The same applies to other objects that could help you to line up.
Ball wedged on the flagstick (Rule 13)
Previously, the flag had to be removed in this case to let the ball fall into the hole.
Now, the ball is classed as having been holed if part of the ball is below the lip.
Good to know: A ball wedged on the flagstick is therefore virtually always classed as holed.