If you’re out and about and thrashing away on the golf course on New Year’s Day in 2019, you may just be tempted to raise a hair of the dog from the hip flask to the R&A and the USGA.

As of January 1, the one-shot penalty for the dreaded double hit, that rattling, curse-inducing clatter that occasionally happens when you’re attempting to extricate yourself from a desperate lie in a bunker, has now been removed as the R&A and USGA unveiled their overhauls of the rules of golf which will come into force on the first day of next year.

Following extensive consultation, a few long lunches and the poring over of feedback from some 30,000 members of the global golfing community, the game’s governing bodies have made a few tweaks to proposals released to the public last year.

In an effort to make golf easier to understand and faster to play, many of those proposals, such as keeping the flag in while putting and reducing the time allowed to search for lost balls from five minutes to three, will be scribbled into the new rule book unchanged.

The somewhat contentious suggestion, however, of allowing to take penalty or free drops from just an inch above the ground has been altered. This action will now be required to be made from knee height.

For someone like Chris Wood, the giant, 6’ 6” Ryder Cup player, that will still mean he’ll be dropping his ball through a light covering of high altitude mist.

It is a sensible approach from the powers-that-be, though. There were concerns, for instance, that being within such close proximity to the ground could effectively lead to players just about placing the ball.

The knee-high stipulation maintains that element of randomness while still giving a trifle more precision as opposed to dropping from the traditional shoulder-height range.

Amid a variety of additions and amendments to the book of golfing dos and don’ts, a local rule at club level can be implemented which will give golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty, thus negating the need to trudge all the way back to where the player hit the shot. This rule, aimed at speeding up play, will not be allowed at professional or elite level competitions.

Using the longest club in the bag (other than a putter) when taking relief will continue after respondents rejected suggestions of a new 20-inch or 80-inch standard.

One rule which many a golfer would like to see will not be appearing in 2019, however.

On those rare occasions you crack one out of the screws and send a drive thundering down the middle of the fairway, your perky swagger is swiftly transformed into a muttering slump of despondency when you discover your ball has trundled into an old divot.

Despite wails that it is unfair and calls to have a rule brought in to give relief from such instances, the officials, after much debate, have maintained the core fundamental of playing it as it lies. As Jack Nicklaus said, “golf is not, and never has been, a fair game.”

On announcing the changes and additions, David Rickman, the R&A’s rules guru, said: “We are pleased to be introducing the new rules of golf after a collaborative and wide-ranging review process which has embraced the views of golfers, rules experts and administrators worldwide.

“We believe that the new rules are more in tune with what golfers would like and are easier to understand and apply for everyone who enjoys playing this great game.”