USGA updates its Rules of Golf app


Did you know that during a round of golf, the player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the rules, and during a stipulated round, if the caddie breaches any of the rules, the player incurs the applicable penalty?

That’s just one example found inside the United States Golf Association’s Rules of Golf app, an easy-to-search rulebook that is here to help end all debate, whether you’re pulling out your smartphone to challenge another player on the course, or sitting on your couch while watching the latest PGA Tour event.

The free iOS and Android app even includes the ability to share rules via e-mail, just in case your friend/opponent needs the proof of his improprieties in writing.

“Every four years, there are revisions to the Rules of Golf, and every two years they announce decisions based on those rules,” says Amanda Weiner, Digital Media Manager, USGA. “This is an update to our existing app. Our last update was in 2012, and we realized we really needed to make some enhancements to the user experience. We wanted to make the search functionality a little easier, while at the same time, make the graphics more visually appealing. So in addition to updating the actual content, we wanted to make it a better user experience for our fans.”

Golf_300In the past, rule debates have been known to end friendships right there on the course, but while not every foursome will carry a hardcopy of the rules with them, just about everybody has their smartphones, and the USGA hopes the updated app will help settle any arguments immediately, enabling golfers to get back on the greens and enjoy their day (unless, of course, you’re the one who was just penalized a stroke).

“We see a lot of golfers out with their friends having a debate over whether or not a golfer broke a rule or not, and they’ll pull out their Rules of Golf book,” says Weiner. “Now they can pull out their phone and look up specific rules on the app.”

In addition to the Rules of Golf update, users will also be able to download the Decisions of the Rules of Golf for free for a limited time, with the premium upgrade costing $0.99 after three months.

The Decisions consist of over 1,200 entries that help address specific situations under the Rules of Golf, like whether or not a player can use a smartphone to check the weather reports and when a ball is classified as being embedded in the ground, complete with illustrations. This is a must-have upgrade for golfers, as it addresses needs beyond the general rule in a Q&A style format that’s extremely helpful.

“We also give users two ways to search through the rules,” says Weiner. “We have the turn dial, which iOS users in particular are very accustomed to using, scrolling through with their thumb. Then we also have more standard search functionality with a smart search where even if you don’t know the rule, you can just type in ‘ball in water’ and the smart search functionality will pull up all rules in association with a ball in the water.

“Every day we’re seeing more and more of our users use their mobile device to access everything from our Web site to our U.S. Open application, so in order to broaden our distribution and get out to more people, we know that mobile apps, especially when it comes to the Rules of Golf, is the way to go.”