For practically its entire life, the game of golf has been infamous for its non-player-friendly rules. It seemed like the level tolerance was unreasonably low, like you could almost be punished for anything. Thanks to the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, that is no longer the case, to a certain degree anyway. With the changing times, the USGA has seen the need to update its rules to suit a more progressive golfing community. Here are some relatively recent updates to the rules:
- It is no longer a penalty if you have addressed your ball and the wind causes it to move; just play the ball from its new position instead of moving it back.
- Addressing the ball no longer entails taking your stance. You’ve addressed the ball when you’ve put your club down immediately behind or in front of the ball whether you've taken a stance or not.
- When you think you’ve hit your golf ball into a water hazard, it is no longer necessary to inspect the hazard to gain evidence of your ball entering. If it is obvious from your point of view that your ball is within the hazard, you can proceed as if your ball is in the water hazard.
- If you’ve played from the incorrect place by accident, the maximum penalty you can be assessed is two strokes.
- It is legal to make a stroke an oscillating ball without penalty; the ball has not technically moved.
- In searching for your ball in sand, if you accidentally move your ball, there is no penalty.
- Changing the course is no longer a penalty unless it creates an advantage for you. For example, accidentally knocking a leaf loose on a practice swing is now okay.
- It is legal to check sports scores or listen to an electronic device such as a radio in such a way during a round that only takes a brief amount of time; however, it is illegal to listen to such devices for long periods of time during a round.