Rules of Golf

R&A and USGA announce 2023 Rules of Golf update

The R&A
07 Nov 22
3 mins

The R&A and USGA 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 1 January 2023.

The 2023 edition continues the modernisation 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 four 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 fall under the categories covered in Rule 25.
  • Handicap Usage in Stroke Play: With the continued growth of digital scoring following the adoption of the World Handicap System, players are no longer required to show their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The Committee will be responsible for calculating the player’s handicap strokes for the competition and using that to calculate the player’s net score.
  • 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. 
Golfers will be able to learn more about the major changes and view the official 2023 Rules of Golf by following the links below or by visiting 

Additional Resources

Download the Rules of Golf in full and use our helpful infographic to help you get ready for the changes coming in January 2023.
“The growing popularity of golf continues to guide our decision-making and modernizing the Rules to promote inclusivity and accessibility is clearly a great step in the right direction,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA Chief Governance Officer. “This latest evolution is especially important to the community of golfers with disabilities, and we hope it will encourage more people to play and enjoy the game.” Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “We are continuing to improve and adapt the Rules of Golf to ensure they are in line with the way the modern game is played. That means making the Rules easier to understand and access for all golfers and making the sport more inclusive and welcoming for golfers with disabilities. We are also working to ensure golf has a sustainable long-term future and making more resources available digitally is key to achieving that goal.” Players are reminded that the current edition of the Rules of Golf (2019) still applies when playing or posting scores for the remainder of 2022. The other sections of this App continue to reflect the 2019 Rules of Golf. A full update to this 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.