Since interpretation of the rules can become complicated, I have simplified the changes for you which include:
#1. Rule 18-2b The Wind Rule
If you address the ball, and a gust of wind moves it, you are no longer penalized. You play the ball from the new position. Previously you had to replace the ball or incur a one stroke penalty.
#2. Definitions. Addressing the Ball
The Definition is amended so that regardless of whether or not you have taken your stance, you have been deemed to address the ball simply by grounding your club immediately in front of or behind the ball. Previously addressing the ball included taking your stance.
#3. Rule 6-3a Time of Starting
If you tee off five minutes before or after your scheduled tee time, you will be penalized two strokes in stroke play, or loss of the first hole in match play. Previously the penalty was disqualification from the tournament.
#4. Rule 12-1, 18-2a Moving the Ball
When you are searching for your ball and you accidentally move it because it is covered by sand, there is no penalty. However, if you move your ball in a hazard when it is covered by loose impediments, you are penalized one stroke.
#5. Rule 20-7c Playing from the Wrong Place
Unless you breach another rule, if you accidentally play from the wrong place, your penalty will be limited to two strokes in stroke play.
#6. Rule 13-4 Smoothing Sand in a Bunker
You are now permitted to smooth the sand in a bunker and remove a loose impediment in the process before your first shot if it is your sole purpose to take care of the course. However, you will be penalized for testing the sand, improving your stance or lie, or improving your intended swing or line of play. Rule 13-2.
#7. Rule 13-2 Altering the Golf Course
If you intentionally take an action that alters the physical conditions affecting the movement of your ball, you are in violation of Rule 1-2. Accidentally knocking a leaf loose on your practice swing of the golf course is not a penalty unless it creates an advantage for you.
#8. Rule 16-1b Lifting the Ball on the Putting Green
If there is a chance your ball could be struck by another ball, you may not lift your ball on the putting green when the other ball is in motion. This is an addition to the previous rule.
#9. Decision 26.1 Certainty of Ball in Water Hazard
If you are certain that your ball has gone into a water hazard, you can proceed under the water hazard options without having to inspect the hazard to see your ball.
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