Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods led the praise for golf's proposed radical rules overhaul with the former expressing the belief that the "revolutionary" modernisation and simplification could stop people turning away from the game.

The sweeping changes - labelled "the biggest in a generation" by David Rickman, the R&A director of rules - have been almost five years in the making. The governing bodies's mission was to make the rulebook easier to understand and to make it fairer by removing some of the pettiness. The number of rules will be reduced from 34 to 24 and be written in much more straightforward prose.

Among the proposals - due to come into effect from January 1, 2019 - are allowing players to repair spike-marks on greens and reducing the permitted time for the search for a lost ball from five minutes to three, a move, which among others, the authorities hope will also help tackle the scourge of slow players.

The revelations did not come as a shock to the professionals, as the R&A and USGA had hosted briefings on both the European and PGA Tour's this year. Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, even took McIlroy to lunch to explain the plans.


"I think it's great and I told Mike that," McIlroy said. "What's happened over the last couple of years with some rulings and high-profile things that have happened at crucial stages in tournaments, people look at that who might want to get into the game and are like, 'you know the rules are too complicated, I don't want to get into all of that'. Making them more modern to move with the times is good."

Woods concurred, tweeting that it was "great work to benefit the game".

Credit: Twitter / @TigerWoods

The R&A and USGA will be delighted to hear it, because both amateurs and professionals struggled with the Rules of Golf.

"Players were so intimidated by them that they couldn't even open the book and try to understand," Rickman said.

Dustin Johnson, the new world No1, would have been interested in the changes.

At last year's US Open at Oakmont, there was a query if the American had made his ball move at address on the fifth green.

He told the referee he did not believe he had, but bizarrely, the USGA officials could not make an immediate decision and so nobody was sure of Johnson's exact score until he finished the round.

Johnson was hit with a shot penalty, but fortunately, he was so far ahead so it did not matter.

Under these proposals there would be no such farce - because there would be no penalty. "Some of the rule changes I think are really good, especially the ball on the green when you don't feel like you caused it to move and you're still getting a penalty - that to me makes no sense," Johnson said.

Hoping to remove a raft a "penalty traps" for club golfers, the R&A is also proposing to allow players to take drops from just an inch above the grass " rather than from waist high " while introducing an "unplayable" option from bunkers that would incur a two-stroke penalty.