Wednesday, November 20

New USGA-R&A Decision Will Negate Video Evidence

THE USGA AND THE R&A ANNOUNCED on Tuesday that 87 changes have been made to the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. The breakdown: three Decisions changes are new, 59 are revised, 24 are withdrawn and one is re-numbered. They go into effect next year.

In a joint statement, the two governing bodies highlighted the following changes as "particularly noteworthy":

  • New Decision 14-3/18 confirms that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round without breaching the Rules. Importantly, this new Decision also clarifies that players are permitted to access information on the threat of an impending storm in order to protect their own safety.
  • New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.
  • Revised Decision 25-2/0.5 helps to clarify when a golf ball is considered to be embedded in the ground through the use of illustrations.
  • Revised Decision 27-2a/1.5 allows a player to go forward up to approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball.

New Decision 18/4 is receiving a lot of attention because it addresses situations like the one Tiger Woods faced at the 2013 BMW Championship. Woods was penalized because his ball appeared to move (change position) based on video evidence. Tiger disagreed with the ruling.

The Guardian's Ewan Murray reported that "this change [concerning enhanced technological evidence] has been in the offing for 18 months and was set in stone before the Woods controversy."

[Joint statement on use of video and other visual evidence in administering rules of golf]

"The Rules of Golf are constantly evolving," the USGA's Thomas Pagel said in the statement.

"The Decisions review process is an opportunity for The R&A and the USGA to continue to help make the game more understandable and accessible for players, officials and others who participate in the game."

The R&A's David Rickman said: "It is important to consider carefully new developments in the game and that is reflected in the new Decisions on the Rules which give greater clarity on the use of smart phones and advanced video technology."

(H/T: Geoff Shackelford)

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