LAHORE: Antecedents of golfing rules can be traced to its inception in 1744 at Scotland. Over centuries they have undergone numerous changes. The rules were first crystalized in 1897 by the regulating body Royal and Ancient Golf Club Saint Andrews. With the passage of time the rules kept on changing in conformity with dictates of equipment and course parameters. Eventually in 2016 it was decided to modify the rules and make them more golfer-friendly. The USA Golf Association (USGA) in collaboration with the R&A decided to get input from all golfing community regarding proposed changes in the offing. Based on the recommendations and modifications, the new rules will be effective January 1, 2019. Interestingly, the golf rule book has been slashed from 34 rules to 24.Golf is a game based on impeccable integrity of players. It is self-monitoring/self-umpiring based on etiquettes and good demeanour.It envisages even imposition of self-penalty for infringement of the rules. For smooth conduct of the game, knowledge of the rules is of paramount significance. The Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) and all its associations must apprise the affiliated clubs about the rule changes. Local rules will have to be incorporated in new score cards. Hazards would be designated as penalty areas. Resultantly ignorance of rules results in mutual waiver and compromise whose penalty is disqualification. The need of the hour warrants holding of rules seminars and awareness drive among golfers to regulate the game smoothly. A pool of rules wizards must be formed to monitor national and international events. Selected golfers should be send to R&A to qualify as international level rules officials.I will be dwelling on the significant rule changes coming into effect for assimilation of all and sundry. Following are the salient features which will have a pronounced bearing on the conduct of the game: 1: Dropping procedure: While taking relief from an abnormal course condition or in a penalty area ball will be dropped from knee height to ensure consistency. Way back in the eighties a golfer faced the hole and dropped over his shoulder. This will preclude possibilities of redrops to minimum.2: Ball lost or out of bounds: Much to the glee an exhilaration of club golfers a local club rule will be invoked. This entails a time saving measure whereby golfers can drop ball in the vicinity of where ball lost with a two stroke penalty even in nearest fairway. It is applicable for club-level matches only.3: Relaxed bunker rules: Bunkers are a club golfer’s nightmare. Stringent rules have been unshackled for the golf hacker and duffers. Golfers can move loose impediments inside bunkers, even touch sand with club away from the ball and eventually get out of the trap with a 2 stroke penalty. Grounding of club next to ball still not permitted.4: Relaxed rules for penalty areas: Water hazards terminology of lateral and water hazards replaced by term penalty areas.This also encapsulates areas like deserts, jungles and rocks. Grounding of club and touching of water allowed.5: Putting green waivers rules eased to allow putting with flag stick unattended. Repairing of spike marks allowed without penalty.6: No penalty for ball moved on green: Accidentally moving of ball by a player no penalty imposition. Also applicable during search of a players ball.7: Pace of play time: Limit for a shot is 40 seconds.8: Search Time Lost ball Reduced from 5 to 3 minutes to enhance pace of play.9: Removal of penalty for double hit: For the whifflers and whooshes double hit penalty has been finally dispensed with.10: Measuring in taking relief: The longest club will be used for taking relief with or without penalty other than the putter.11: No penalty for ball hitting player on rebound: The penalty for a ball hitting a player on rebound from a bunker etcetera has also been revoked.(The writer is a former official of the Pakistan Golf Federation)Published in Daily Times, May 27th 2018.