With regards to the latter there will, as from 2020, be a single world handicap system based on the US model which averages all the rounds that you play including social ones. I think this is fairer as it reflects more a person’s overall ability and should ward against so-called ‘bandits’. However, the maximum handicap is going up to 54 to try and induce less able players to the game. Unfortunately, a negative and slightly cynical me thinks this could lead to a few problems. Golfers can be an awfully canny lot when big prizes floating around the amateur circuit.
As for the Rule changes they are mostly straightforward and sensible with the aim of speeding up play. Hoorah! For instance, you may now putt on the green with the flagstick unattended, only look three minutes for your ball and take forty seconds to play your shot. All well and good here and this has received much caddie approval. However, we then have the exception to Rule 6-6d and what I call the Lexi Thompson camp appeasement rule. For this has surely been introduced to placate those who feel that the young Texan lass was unduly hard done to when she received four penalty shots in the ANA Invitational back in 2017.
But let’s look again at what exactly happened here as I think it is important for the world of golf writ large and deserves to be scrutinised with the objectivity and seriousness that it deserves.
What happened then? Well essentially, some bloke sitting on his sofa, I think in Wisconsin, was enjoying the TV coverage of the event and noticed that Lexi did not replace her ball properly. He picked up the phone to alert the golfing authorities at the event who agreed and gave her the penalties, to the stupefaction of Lexi and her fans.