The USGA has come up with a new rule for golf balls that go out of bounds. The only thing is this is supposed to be a local rule that is up to each individual golf course to adopt. However, we believe this is a rule all amateur golfers should play by all the time.
The rule basically states that if you hit a ball out of bounds, instead of hitting another ball from the tee, you can then go to where your ball went out of bounds and play your 4th shot from the edge of the fairway, no nearer the hole. This is the same as hitting your 3rd shot from the tee but it is designed to speed up the game.
Click Here to read all about the rules and a short video the USGA did explaining the rule.
The only thing we do not agree with on this rule is that a golfer could potentially hit their 3rd shot out of bounds and by being allowed to play further up after your initial tee shot eliminates any potential extra penalty shots that could occur from the tee. But we also understand that the current Equitable Stroke Control for handicap purposes would negate any extra penalties and give the golfer a max score for that particular hole.
Usually when the USGA says "local rule" that means the golf course must adopt the rule and have it posted. If the golf course does not have it posted that usually means, per the rules, you can only post scores playing by the rules of the golf course. In other words,
if the golf course does not post this new rule as a local rule and you use it then technically you are not supposed to be able to post your score for handicap purposes.
For the purpose of enjoying the game and helping with the pace of play, this is something we think every golfer should use. Even if the golf course does not adopt the local rule you can enjoy yourself more if you use this new rule to your advantage every time you play.