New Golf Rules — Golf Instructor’s Advice

New Golf Rules for This Year from The Professional Golf Instructors at Tell Me More Golf

As the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, I receive many questions about the rules of golf from beginners. I also get asked many questions about what new golf rules there are. These can be hard to keep track of, so they’ll be covered in this article. 

New Golf Rules: Key Changes

For 2023 and forward, there have been quite a few rule changes. Some of them are quite specific and won’t impact most golfers, while some can significantly affect your golf game, which is why you need to know them. Down below, we’ve listed the key changes that have been made. 

New Disabled Golfers Rule 

Previously, golf courses could decide for themselves if they wanted to follow the official rules’ accommodations for disabled golfers. Now, they’re forced to do so. One example of these rules is a blind golfer, who is now always allowed to have help with aligning themselves correctly to their target. 

No Penalty When Not Writing Handicap on Scorecard 

With scorekeeping apps becoming more and more popular, the rules have changed so you won’t receive a penalty when not writing your handicap on your scorecard.

This is because many golfers simply don’t use scorecards in stroke play anymore.

In competitions, the committees will have to oversee the players and their handicaps. 

You Can Now Replace a Damaged Club

This very rarely happens, but previously, a broken golf club couldn’t be replaced during a round of golf. Now, a broken golf club can be replaced. However, the damage must have occurred unintentionally. So if you broke your driver by force after you shanked a shot into the woods, you can’t do anything about it. 

This rule change doesn’t really impact amateur golfers, as they won’t have a new club available. However, it can be important for professional golfers who could lose a tournament otherwise. 


Balls Can Be Replaced if Moved by Natural Forces 

If natural forces, such as the wind or a down slope, makes your golf ball move to another part of the golf course after it has come to a stop, you can replace the ball. This is especially helpful if your ball rolls into the water or out of bounds, where you previously would’ve received a penalty. 

Simpler Back-On-Line Relief 

Earlier, when you knocked a golf ball into a penalty area or an unplayable lie, you had to drop it, and if it rolled closer to the hole, you had to drop it again.

This could get very time-consuming and frustrating, especially on unusual lies.

However, now it simply has to stop within one club length of where it was dropped, even if it’s one club length closer to the hole.


Why the New Rules Add Forgiveness 

The new official golf rules mean a significant lift of forgiveness. Here’s why:

  • No penalty when not writing your handicap on your scorecard: This rule might not seem very significant, but it can be very annoying to receive a penalty during a competition.
  • Balls can be replaced if moved by natural forces: For example, if you drop a golf ball on a down slope, and the slope brings the ball into the water, you can now simply drop again without a penalty.
  • Simpler back-on-line relief: This rule mainly makes things more straightforward, but by being simpler, there’s less of a risk of you doing something incorrectly and receiving a penalty. 

How the New Rules Increase Inclusivity

We very much welcome the new Disabled Golfer’s Rule, which means that disabled golfers can participate in all types of competitions, even if the course previously didn’t allow any help. If more skilled disabled golfers play in competitions, more different people can enjoy the fantastic game of golf, which is awesome. 


New PGA Rules

The PGA Tour has also adapted some new rules for its tournaments. They’re mainly about the designated events for 2024 and onward, which are the four majors, the Players, three FedEx Cup playoff events, and eight more to be decided. Here are the biggest changes:

  • No cuts on designated events, making a bad round less detrimental for the best golfers in the world. 
  • Smaller fields of about 70 players on designated events. This speeds things up and can make watching the events more fun.
  • Top players won’t have to play certain events, such as the Players. Instead, the PGA Tour will do its best to incentivize playing on these. This gives pros more freedom, and is probably an attempt by the PGA to keep golfers from leaving for LIV. 

Are There Any New LIV Rules? 

LIV Golf is a very new golf league, and for 2023, there have been no significant rule changes. There are some changes however, but they’re mostly about the LIV brand. Some changes include: 

  • 14 events instead of 8.
  • TV Deal and not just YouTube streaming.
  • Rebranded teams.
  • A few new players.


New GHA vs USGA Rules 

The Golf Handicap Association, also known as the GHA, is a made-up set of rules and a handicap system that golf clubs can join. They are not connected with the United States Golf Association, which is the “real” one. 

There are differences between the two systems when it comes to rules, and the GHA and its courses have recently changed their rules dramatically, which some golfers will certainly enjoy and some hate. 

Some of the new and controversial GHA rules are the following: 

  • 18 clubs are allowed, instead of only 14. 
  • Elimination of 2 stroke out of bounds. 
  • Free drops on golf balls in a fairway divot.
  • 3 putts max.
  • No limits on driver COR and MOI.
  • Increasing max driver CC from 460 to 600.
  • Free relief from roots and rocks. 
  • No club groove restrictions.
  • Allowing alignment sticks.
  • Allowing green slope measuring devices.
  • Golf carts are legal for tournament play. – Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the new changes to the Rules of Golf?

There have been quite a few changes to the official rules of golf, with the most important ones for amateurs being no penalty when not putting down a handicap on your scorecard, stopped balls moved by natural forces can be replaced, and a simpler back-on-line relief procedure. 

What are the new golf rules for divots for this year?

There are no new official R&A or USGA rules regarding divots. However, golfers playing by GHA rules can now move a golf ball that’s stuck in a fairway divot

What is the 18 club rule for this year?

Golf courses and golfers playing under GHA’s rules will now be able to carry 18 clubs in their golf bag, instead of the traditional 14.

However, this is not an official rule, and you can not post a regular score when doing this. Most courses also don’t follow GHA’s rules, which means that they don’t allow you to do this. Almost all golf courses, especially outside of the US, follow R&A and USGA rules. 


What is the new club rule for golf?

There’s been a lot of confusion over the new rules of golf, including whether there are new club rules. The only official R&A and USGA new club rule is that a broken golf club can be replaced, as long as the golfer didn’t break it intentionally.

The GHA, on the other hand, has made a new rule that you can now carry 18 golf clubs. You can do this if you have a GHA handicap and don’t play by the official rules, but otherwise not

What is the new 40 second rule in golf?

The new 40 second rule is an official golf rule that says that a golfer should make a stroke in no longer than 40 seconds after standing behind the golf ball.

This rule does have some wiggle room, such as if somebody disturbs you. It’s also meant to simply encourage a higher pace of play, rather than prevent golfers from having an advantage of some sort. 

What is the new out of bounds in golf?

In an attempt to increase the pace of play and make golf more fun for struggling beginners, some clubs have adopted a local out of bounds rule. This rule allows golfers to drop the ball in the fairway to an imaginary perpendicular line to where the golf ball went out of bounds, as long as it’s not closer to the hole.

However, this local rule says that you’re hitting your fourth shot if you decide to drop, making the rule less about scoring and more about having fun. In reality, we think that many amateurs already play with a similar made-up rule during their casual rounds.



The rules of golf are many and they can be quite confusing. For 2023 and beyond, many new rules have been added that can significantly impact your golf game.

The biggest rule changes are the disabled golfer’s rule, no penalty when not writing your handicap on your scorecard, allowing replacement of broken clubs, balls moved by natural forces can be moved, and a simpler back-on-line relief.
Hopefully, you’re now more familiar with the new rules of golf, the differences between the official rules and GHA rules, and how the pros will play differently in the future.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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