We all know that golf is the greatest sport of them all, as you're not only competing against your fellow golfers but against yourself.
It's an ancient sport as well, and since 1744 its rules have been set in stone by the '13 articles' which were first formulated in Edinburgh, Scotland.
This doesn't mean that golf can't move with the times, however, or amend, create or improve rules. The coming months and years are likely to see three changes to the world of golf that could have a huge transformative effect upon it.
Golf will be faster
One of the great things about playing or watching golf is that fortunes can change from one hole to the next, and the likely winner won't become apparent until well into a round, but that doesn't mean that a round of golf should drag on and on. There's been a lot of criticism in recent years of slow play, so the R&A and the USGA have formulated new rules designed to combat this. Among a raft of changes, players will now have three minutes to find a lost ball rather than five, and flags don't have to be removed or guarded before a putt is made – if a putt hits an unguarded flag, there will be no penalty stroke applied. These rules are designed to speed up play, and the governing bodies have also announced a recommendation that all shots should be played within 40 seconds.
An emphasis will be placed on player honesty
Some have felt for a long time that there has been far too much emphasis upon the minutiae of the rule book rather than relying on player's judgment and honesty, but that's about to change. The new rules are placing greater prominence upon "player integrity," which means that reasonable judgment will be trusted with regards to factors such as distance and position when a player makes a drop. Another change means that players will now have to drop from knee height rather than shoulder height.
Golf will further embrace betting sites
Golf is a sport which makes an ideal companion for betting sites, which is why more and more people are using expert websites such as bettingsites.ng to find the best deals and sites out there. There are just so many factors which can be wagered upon, from tournament winners to holes in one and match play head to heads, and the signs are that golf is now ready to embrace this fun symbiosis. Undoubtedly the golf matchup of the year was the match play showdown between all-time greats Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Thanksgiving. Lefty won and walked away with a cool $9 million, but TV viewers were given live updates on statistics and betting odds throughout the match. We're likely to see more of these matchups, and more tie-ins with betting companies in the years to come.
The future of golf should see more opportunities for viewer interaction via sports betting sites, quicker and more dynamic play, and less red tape and rule checking, so what's not to like? The good news is that these changes aren't a distant pipe dream, they're happening in major tournaments and on a course near you right now. Golf may be changing, but it's changing for the better.