Clarity and a few tweaks to Rules of Golf

FAR HILLS, New Jersey (AP) — Golf's governing bodies said Wednesday they have amended 28 of the 34 rules starting in 2008, with only a few significant changes.

One of them is when a ball deflects off a player, which is what happened to Jeff Maggert in the final round of the 2003 U.S. Masters.

He was leading the tournament when his fairway bunker shot at No. 3 caromed off the lip and bounced off his chest. Maggert was assessed a two-shot penalty, went on to make triple bogey and never regained the lead.

Under the revised rule 19-2, the penalty has been reduced to one shot in stroke play and match play. Previously, it had been loss of hole in match play.

Other changes include:

- Rule 12-2, which allows a player to lift a ball in the bunker or a water hazard for identification purposes.

- Rule 4-1, which reduces the penalty for carrying - but not using - a non-conforming club from disqualification to two strokes per hole, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. In match play, the penalty is loss of hole with a maximum of two holes per round.

Most of the other changes by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association were made to improve clarity or reduce penalties. The rules are effective Jan. 1, and will not be amended again until the start of 2012.

"The simpler, clearer language of the 2008 editions is designed to make it easier for players to use," said David Rickman, director of rules and equipment standards for the R&A.

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