As we all know the there are some changes to the game’s rules this year! These rules come into effect on the 1st of January 2019 and it is the golfer’s responsibility to know and understand these rules in order for to a certain amount of self-governance to take place on the course. It’s always good practice to have a copy of the Players Edition in your golf bag or for you to have access to the R&A’s website. The current Winter rules that have been in effect from the 1st of Novmber 2018 will be replaced by the below (amended) version as off the 1st of January 2019. These rules will be posted on all notice boards, the website and should you wish a printed copy these will be made available in the professional shop.




Temporary local rules as of the 1st of January 2019 

Local rules are additional rules that the greens committee have put into place due to the specific requirements of our course over the winter months. They are designed to promote fair play at Prestonfield Golf Club over a time when weather conditions greatly effect the course and should be observed as well as the general rules of golf as outlined under the R&A. 

Get to know your definitions 

Casual Water 

“Casual water’’ is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Manufactured ice is an obstruction. Dew and frost are not casual water. A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water

Wrong Putting Green

A “wrong putting green” is any putting green other than that of the hole being played. Unless otherwise prescribed by the Committee, this term includes practice putting green or pitching green on the course.

During the winter months a main green must be deemed the wrong green when a temporary is in play for the hole.

Temporary greens should be deemed as GUR and golfers must take relief under Rule 25-1 

What is Preferred lies and what does it mean? 

As outlined by the R&A Rules of Golf Appendix 1 part B 

Adverse conditions, including the poor condition of the course or the existence of mud, are sometimes so general, particularly during winter months that the Committee may decide to grant relief by temporary Local Rule either to protect the course or to promote fair and pleasant play. The Local Rule will be withdrawn as soon as the conditions warrant.

c. “Preferred Lies” and “Winter Rules”

A ball lying on a closely-mown area through the green may be lifted, without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. When play from fairways is not permitted the player having lifted the ball, he must place it on an artificial surface designed for the purpose of striking a golf ball not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green. If a player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner such as rolling it with a club he incurs a penalty of one shot.


A player, at their discretion may not use an artificial surface on a closely-mown area should the ball’s proximity to the green permit a reasonable stroke to be taken with a putter.  


Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.


Aeration Holes

Through the green, a ball that comes to rest in or on an aeration hole may be lifted, without penalty, cleaned and dropped, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.

On the putting green, a ball that comes to rest in or on an aeration hole may be placed at the nearest spot not nearer the hole that avoids the situation.


Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

Ground Under Repair (GUR)

All areas marked as GUR defined by either stakes, ropes or a white lines is ground under repair from which play is prohibited. If a player’s ball lies in the area, or it interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 25-1.

Dropping Zones 

Due the level of work taking place on the golf golf course over the coming winter months, the course and the conditions under which play is governed will change from time to time. As a result, the greens committee would like to clarify the dropping zone rule which influences the dropping options at holes 3 and 4. 

If a ball lies in the area of GUR or if it interferes with the players stance or the area of his intended swing the player may take relief under Rule 25-1 or as an additional option, drop a ball in the dropping zone/the nearest dropping zone even when the dropping zone is nearer the hole than where the ball originally lay

Miscellaneous Course Damage

All course renovation works, including newly seeded areas, drainage disruption and damage caused by heavy equipment, is ground under repair (GUR), even if not so marked with white lines. If a player’s ball lies in such a condition, or if such condition interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 25-1b(i): Abnormal Ground Conditions – Relief. The player must lift their ball and drop it without penalty within one club length, of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole. 

Winter golfing advice and arrangements: in an effort to try and reduce the wear and tear around holes and the areas immediately surrounding them, the greens committee wishes to enlist the help of golfers during the winter period, especially when the greens are wet. Similarly, when compulsory, golfers are required to tee from the artificial tee mats and use artificial mats in closely mown areas through the green. The exception of this rule, at the player’s discretion, and only when the ball’s proximity to the green permits a reasonable stroke to be taken with a putter.

Please help protect the course by observing all fenced, hooped, roped and white line restrictions. Buggy and trolley users must respect all restrictions in no go areas and are asked to keep buggy’s and trolleys well away from tees, greens, green surrounds and if possible use winter wheels. Please remember that the use of temporary greens or the implementation of other buggy and trolley restrictions are short term measures designed to protect the golf course from damage and to help ensure the health and safety of all golfers and employees. In essence, please do all you can to help protect the course during the winter.  



Important R&A general rule changes that come into effect from the 1st of January 2019 


20 general rule changes that you will need to know

1. Drop from knee height 

2. Measure the area to drop with the longest club in your bag (except putter)

3. Drop and play within the relief area

4. When dropping back-on-the-line, your ball cannot be played from nearer the hole that your chosen reference point 

5. Search time now 3 minutes 

6. If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, replace it without penalty 

7. No penalty for a double hit, it will only count as one stroke 

8. No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke 

9. No penalty if your ball strikes the flagstick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole 

10. Spike marks and other shoes damage on the putting green can be repaired 

11. Ball accidentally moved on the putting green – no penalty and replace 

12. Ball marked, lifted and replaced on the putting green is moved by wind to another position – replace ball on original spot 

13. Penalty areas replace water hazards. You can now move loose impediments, ground your club and take practice swings in the penalty area with occurring a penalty.

14. You can’t take relief from a penalty area unless you are at least 95% certain your ball is in the penalty area.

15. You can remove loose impediments in bunkers 

16. In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking a practice swing 

17. Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough. Embedded means that some part of your golf ball is below the level of the ground

18. Unplayable ball in the bunker. Extra option to now drop outside the bunker for a penalty of 2 shots.

19. You cannot have your caddie or your partner stand behind you once you begin taking your stance 

20. Ready golf in stroke play in encouraged. 

All these changes are explained in more detail in the Rules Essentials videos on the R&A website. Alternatively, read the PLAYERS EDITION of the rules of golf to learn more.