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Here's what you need to know about substantial rules changes to golf

The most substantial rules changes in golf have debuted in 2019 and Leon gave the Ladies Golf Association a rundown on the changes this month.
“On the whole, they’re designed to speed up play,” Leon told the ladies.
If you were not aware of changes yet and watching the Masters, you became aware when you saw pros putting with the flag in.
“When I play by myself or with another person, it speeds up play,” said Leon.
Also, if a ball ends up wedged between the flagstick and the side of the hole, the ball is “holed.”
But the decision in West Texas whether or not to leave the flag in depends on which way the wind is blowing, he said.
But that’s not all.
• Search time has been cut from five to three minutes, which Grace Fikse agreed with. “It’s really surprising how long three minutes is – if you can’t find it in that amount of time.”
• If a ball moves during search you can replace with no penalty.
• Embedded ball: You get free relief anywhere on the course.
• Use your longest club – your driver, but not a putter – in measuring a drop.
• Drop a ball from knee height, rather than your shoulder. But, Leon pointed out, you can lower your knee.
• Taking a stance on the wrong green is not permitted. Just drop the ball to nearest point of relief no closer to the hole.
• If a ball unintentionally hits a player or equipment, there is no penalty.
• An unintentional double hit now counts as only a one-stroke penalty.
• Incidentally touching sand in a banker is permitted. You still cannot ground the club, Leon said.
• If you don’t want to hit out of bunker, you can call it unplayable (even if for some it isn’t). But it is a two-stroke penalty. Tell others you’re taking an unplayable and go back keeping line between you and hole and then drop.
• Water hazards are now called penalty areas.
• Loose impediments can now be removed anywhere.
• There’s no penalty for touching ground in a penalty area – but there is a penalty stroke if you break a branch during a practice swing.
• There’s no penalty if the ball moves on the green after being marked or is ball accidentally moves on the putting green.
• All damage to greens can now be repaired.
• Positioning a club on the ground for alignment is not permitted.
• Caddy assisting with alignment is now not permitted once you’ve taken your stance and addressed the ball.

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