Rules update: 'Biggest change for our generation'

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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers says the highly anticipated modernizing of golf’s rules will be released on March 1, but it might be just the beginning of more change.

“It’s the biggest change for our generation,” Slumbers said Monday in a media conference call. “I'm hoping that it's going to be welcome, because an awful lot of work and thought has gone into it.”

And more work will follow, he said, with R&A and USGA’s modernization setting up a framework of language that could lead to more specific rule changes down the line.

For instance, Slumbers was asked if the R&A and USGA will ban caddies from lining up players with its new rules restructuring. He said what will be released on March 1 will not do so, but ...

“What you will see is an increased emphasis on the words ‘skill and judgment’ in the rules, and that's intended to create a framework for future discussions around items such as that,” Slumbers said.

The R&A in conjunction with the USGA has been preparing the golf industry for its reorganization of the Rules of Golf. Early reports are that they will “blow up” the 34-rule structure, with specific changes including how yellow and red stakes will be used to mark hazards, how players will be allowed to take drops and to repair spike marks and how much time they will have to search for lost balls.

Slumbers didn’t detail specific changes, but he said R&A officials have been busy briefing pros on what to expect.

“And the feedback so far is very positive,” he said. “They like the way that we're thinking about modernizing the game, and they like the way that we've sort of codified it and brought things into what you call more logical groups of rulings, and I would expect that most of the people will welcome the proposed changes.

“Will somebody have a different view? Of course they will, and that's fine, that's why we're going into consultation for eight to nine months.”