Lothians star Grant Forrest is keeping his fingers crossed that he doesn’t have to use golf’s new rules too often in his first outing in 2019.
This week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship sees the changes being implemented for the first time following their introduction on January 1 by the game’s governing bodies.
The new rules include players now being allowed to putt with the pin in, a drop having to be taken from knee height and the time permitted for searching for a ball being cut from five to three minutes.
“Hopefully I’m not going to be in too many positions where I’m going to be worrying about the new rules, but it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment at first,” admitted Forrest, one of eight Scots teeing up in the $7 million Rolex Series event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“For the most part, I think they are going to be good, especially the one that now allows spike marks to be tapped down. That will be a help for when you are playing later in the day.”
The one permitting the pin to now be kept in without a penalty in place for hitting it has caused a big talking point so far, with former Masters champion Adam Scott saying he is going to keep it for every putt this season.
“They’ve come out with some stats saying it’s more likely to go in with the flag in, but that’s only if ball has quite a bit of pace on it,” added Forrest in offering his view on that particular change.
“From 20 feet and in, if your pace is that much of a problem it shouldn’t really matter. But I think it will be fine for the longer putts and, overall with the changes, I think common sense should prevail.”
Forrest, one of four Scottish newcomers on the European Tour this season, is making his Rolex Series debut in an event that also features Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, the world No.2 and No.3 respectively.
“It is really exciting to play in big events like this on great golf courses with great set ups and with some of the top players in the world,” said the North Berwick man. “You just have to look at the players who have won around here to see it’s a ball-striking golf course and I’m looking forward to it.”