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Changes In Golf (Fore) 2019


The new, modernized Rules of Golf have been finalized and released by the USGA and R&A, and will go into effect at the beginning of 2019. Though the general premise for this update was to clarify the sport’s notorious ambiguity around its guidelines, let’s be honest: rules language can still be hard to process. Luckily for you, we have everything you need to know about the new Rules of Golf right here.

One change is designed specifically for the recreational golfer

Regarding out of bounds or a lost ball. Instead of stroke and distance, a new local rule allows the option of dropping a ball in the vicinity of where the original was lost or out of bounds, including the nearest fairway area, with a two-stroke penalty. Basically, if you blow your first drive into the woods, you no longer have to hit your third from the tee box. Instead, you can play your fourth from the fairway—basically, the best case scenario (save for a hole-in-three) with your third shot. This was done to help pace of pace.

This rule will not be in play at the professional level, or other elite competitions.

Another tweak: The height of your drop

Although the initial proposal had a player taking a drop from any length above two inches from the ground, the new rule stipulates drop be taken from knee height, still a significant change from the current shoulder level.

There’s also no longer a penalty for a double-chip

Somewhere, T.C. Chen is smiling. Golfers will now just count the hit as one stroke.

Club-length, not inches, will be the measurement for relief

One of the March 2017 proposals called for either a 20-inch or 80-inch standard, but golfers responded by saying “How are we going to actually measure that?” The governing bodies agreed, going back to club lengths instead.

Aside from the tweaks, other proposals in the first draft from March 2017 will be implemented

These touch on six main areas: ball-moved penalties, relaxed putting-green rules, relaxed rules for water hazards, pace of play, player integrity and rules in the bunker.

The big takeaways from this are:

No more penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the green

You are still penalized, however, if it is “virtually certain” you caused it to move on purpose.

You can putt with the flag stick in

Not only has the penalty for putting to an unattended flag been eliminated, you can go at it without having it removed at all.

You can repair all the damn spike marks your heart desires

As well as repair animal or other damage on the green.

Another penalty removed: touching the line of the putt

However, caddies are not allowed to stand behind or serve as an extension of the line.

You can now move impediments in bunkers and water hazards

There’s also no penalty for touching the ground or water in a penalty area. In the sand, however, you cannot ground the club right next to the ball.

However, if you’re “generally” touching the sand with the club, that’s OK.

An extra relief option has been added for an unplayable ball in a bunker

Yep, more good news for those that struggle in the sand. You can play the ball to be outside the sand with a two-stroke penalty.

The Rules also give your integrity some latitude

A player is given “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance. Your placement will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it wasn’t in the exact right spot.

You also are no longer required to announce when you are lifting a ball to identify or see if it’s damaged

The new Rules are really trusting you on this, buddy. Don’t blow their faith in you.

You’re no longer allowed five minutes to look for a lost ball

Your search party now has three minutes. Let’s be honest, you weren’t going to find it in five, anyway.

And a player can take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke

A change made to help speed of pace of play, although admittedly this one could be a tad hard to enforce at the amateur ranks.

Sadly, one of the most debated rule changes was not made

That would be relief from a fairway divot. “One of the primary objectives for the overall initiative is to make the rules easier to understand and apply, but to also make sure we maintained the traditions and principles behind the game,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of rules & amateur status. “And the principles are to play the ball as it lies and the course as you find it. So to write a rule that allows a player to sort of deviate from that, was not something we were wanting to do.”

In other words, pray the rest of the group takes a casual attitude towards foot wedges from fairway craters.






Tip Of The Week


If you watch the pros closely, you’ll rarely see them make a full, all-out swing with their wedges or short irons. They usually dial it down to 75 or 80 percent of their full tempo. Why? Because when they’re within striking distance of the pin, distance control is all that matters. And the best way to control your distance is to swing within yourself.

One way to do this is by choking down on the club, gripping halfway down the handle to subtract 5 yards from your approach, or all the way down to the steel to remove 10 yards. This will allow you take the longer club and swing more smoothly and in control, rather than having to go all-out with a shorter club. So if your normal 8-iron carries 150 yards and you need the ball to travel 145 yards, grip halfway down the handle; if you need it to go 140 yards, move your hands to the bottom of the grip. Try this grip switch with all of your scoring clubs and you should start to see a lot more birdie opportunities.





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We have extended our online Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale for the whole week. TAKE ADVANTAGE NOW!!!

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The “Loafer Membership”

$385 gets you unlimited walking rounds.

Cart fee of only $8 for 9, or $15 for 18 holes, when taking a cart.

The “Single Membership”

$995.00 gets you unlimited golf with a cart, no restrictions.

(No guest passes or range use included)

The “Couples Membership”

$1,595 gets you unlimited golf with a cart, no restrictions.

(Range Use Included)

All memberships include 10% off non-sale merchandise.


As always, We’re Cooler Friendly!

Host your next outing at Sugar Loaf! 

We appreciate your business, come play the best greens in the county.

Let us tailor a package for your next outing or group event.

Call us for the entire package we have available.
(231) 228-2040

Click the link below to access outing request form.


Twenty one teams took part in our annual Memorial Day 2 person scramble on a day where temperatures reach into the mid 80’s.

In the Open Division, the team of Dustin Popa and Gabriel Schaefer took home first prize with a score of 64.  Second Place was the team of Todd Kelly and Larry Clark with a 66, and third place was rounded out with the team of Rich Dubs and Paul Bardenhagen with a 67.

The Handicap Division was by far the most contested with the team of Joey Barrientoz and Cody Brown shooting a net 59, winning four tickets to see “Yes” at Interlochen.  Second place was take by Dave Anderson and Calvin Korson with a net 61.  They were awarded four gift certificates for the Little Traverse Inn.  Following up in third place was the team of Roger Thomas and Mike Peplinski.  They took home four gift certificates to the Sugarfoots Saloon.

The Mixed Division had some familiar faces atop the leaderboard with the team of Peg and John Larson taking first place with a score of net 65, they were treated to rounds of golf at Tree Tops!  Second place went to the team of Gary Pulsipher and Sue Egelus.  They have rounds at the Leland Country Club for their score of 69.  Third place was the team of Dale and Lynn Watkowski with a score of net 70, and they will be enjoying their rounds at the Old Course.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this years event.  Looking forward to everyone returning for our Labor Day 2 person scramble.

Sugar Loaf Practice Area

I hope everyone enjoyed the Masters this past weekend.  Patrick Reed displayed some great putting over the four days at Augusta.  Congratulations to him on his first Major victory.  Unless you traveled South, that is about as close to golf that us here in Northern Michigan can get.  Frustrating to say the least, but it does look like we will see some snow melt this week combined with a rain/mix going into the weekend.

Our golf maintenance equipment returned today from winter repair.  We can’t wait to get the first cut in on the greens.  That will take place as soon as they are clear and can handle the traffic.  Our new fleet of golf carts will be delivered next Tuesday, straight from Augusta, maybe they will bring the warmer weather along with them.

Once we are able to get out onto the course again we will give an update on a possible opening date.  We are not giving up on April as of yet, although any more significant snow accumulations will certainly diminish those chances.  Think WARM!


Mother/Father nature has not been kind to us this Spring. Just when we thought we would be looking at an early April opening, we received a few inches of the white stuff. As of today (April 2) with snow still on the ground and another Winter storm watch in effect from Tuesday 8am until Wednesday 8am. We just can’t catch a break!

We will continue to keep you informed of an opening date as soon as we see the weather cooperate. Keep Thinking Spring!

Membership pricing will go up again as of April l5th, if you still want to get a price break. In addition, check out our new Sugar Loaf Value Plus Membership, it is a great deal to receive 20% off your golf with cart all season long. Available now in our online store.

Don’t forget it’s Masters Week! Who are you putting your money on this year?