2023 Updates to the Rules of Golf

Key Changes to the Rules of Golf Set to Take Effect in 2023 (NOVEMBER 7, 2022)

Information that many of you have been eagerly waiting for has finally been published.

The USGA and the R&A have unveiled a regular update to the Rules of Golf as they continue to make the Rules easier to understand and apply. The new Rules will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

You can download a Poster detailing 5 Key Rules by clicking on the download button below:

You can also download a document ‘Outcome Changes: 2019 Rules to 2023 Rules Comparison’, which details the changes to the Rules of Golf for 2023, by clicking on the download button below:

The 2023 edition continues the modernization process, with an emphasis on both inclusion and sustainability. For the first time, the modified Rules for players with disabilities have been fully incorporated into the playing rules without the need to adopt a local rule. The governing bodies, supported by longstanding partner Rolex, will also promote digital and mobile app access to the Rules while significantly reducing the production and distribution of more than 4 million printed books.

Several penalties have been relaxed and language has been clarified to help golfers at all levels of play.

Key changes include:

  • Modifications for Players with Disabilities: The modifications to the Rules for players with disabilities have been made part of the Rules and are in effect for all players who are classified in the categories covered in Rule 25.
  • Handicap Usage in Stroke Play: With the continued growth of score-posting technology following the adoption of the World Handicap System™, players are no longer penalized for failing to put their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The committee will be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of each player’s handicap.
  • Club Damaged During Round: The Rule has been amended to allow a player to replace a club that is damaged during a round, provided the player did not damage it through abuse.
  • Ball Moved by Natural Forces: A new exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if it moves to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced.
  • Back-on-the-Line Relief Procedure: The back-on-the-line relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, has been simplified so that the player now drops their ball on the line, and the ball must come to rest within one club-length of where it is dropped.
Taking Back on the Line Relief Rules of Golf 2023
Taking Back on the Line Relief Rules of Golf 2023

The new Rules will go into effect on 1 January 2023 but remember that the current edition of the Rules of Golf (2019) still applies when playing or posting scores for the remainder of 2022.

From 2023, you are being encouraged to download and use the R&A’s Rules of Golf App. There is a real push towards the Rules of Golf app and other digital offerings.

The R&A are printing four million fewer books than last time round, so reducing their distribution operation in getting those around the world, which also fits in with their emphasis on sustainability.

A full update to the Rules of Golf App will be available for download from mid-December and will include the following developments:

  • The Player’s Rule Finder will replace the Player’ s Edition and the Visual Search. It is intended to help you quickly find a summary of the Rule you need to answer your Rules questions for the majority of scenarios.
  • A new video section will allow you to access all Rules videos in one location. 
  • A new Quick Guide video is aimed at players who are transitioning from learner golfer to a competitive golfer (for example those who are looking to gain a handicap). It will provide new golfers with the minimum Rules information that they need to get around the course. 
  • A new set of short, animated videos will be available to help you understand the most frequently used Rules.
  • A new Rules News section will include Rules articles and news (available in English language version only) and you will have the option to turn on push notifications so that you never miss a new Rules article or update.
  • The quiz will be updated to allow you to select the length of the quiz as 6, 9 or 18 questions and will provide you with immediate feedback after every question.

The full Rule book will still be printed but there will be no printed Player’s Edition from 2023, which is normally distributed free to all Golf Clubs.

You can learn about all the major changes and take a deeper look at the 2023 Rules of Golf, by visiting the R&A and USGA websites.

NOTE: The online version of the Rules of Golf 2023 does not include Clarifications, these are only contained in the published 2023 Official Guide to the Rules of Golf


However, the USGA Online Version does, and you can view that by clicking here

Although the R&A and USGA have concentrated on the 5 Key changes the 2023 Rules of Golf contain many other Rule changes, New Clarifications and Local Rules that you should know about because they could impact on your Round of golf.

You can read more details of the 2023 changes to the Rules of Golf and also details of the Additional Rule Changes which may impact on your round of golf by clicking on the link below:

2023 Updates to the Rules of Golf