PGA Tour

R&A, USGA ring rule changes

2013-11-19 18:16
Nedbank Golf Challenge (File)

London - Changes announced on Tuesday by the US Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A include no longer penalising players when ball movement can be detected only by enhanced technology, a rule that hit Tiger Woods in September.

Golf's governing bodies validated three other noteworthy changes, all of which will take effect starting January 1, 2014.

World number one Woods was issued a two-stroke penalty at this year's US PGA playoff BMW Championship after his ball was deemed to have moved as he tried to clear loose impediments around it.

But a PGA Tour videographer using high definition technology spotted a potential violation and reported it to tournament officials.

The replay was reviewed and Woods was assessed a penalty even though he said after the round that he could not detect the ball had moved, only that it appeared to oscillate and return to its original position.

Woods was upset at the decision even after watching the high-def replay.

"Where enhanced technological evidence 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," the governing bodies said in a joint statement.

The governing bodies had been discussing the issue for two years and the change was announced as part of the rules review process.

"The rules of golf are constantly evolving," USGA senior rules director Thomas Pagel said. "The review process is an opportunity for the R&A and the USGA to continue to help make the game more understandable and accessible."

Other changes included allowing players to access weather reports on portable telephones during rounds as a safety protection issue, illustrations to help clarify when a ball is to be considered embedded and allowing a player to go forward up to about 50 yards without giving up the right to play a provisional ball.

"It is important to consider carefully new developments in the game," R&A executive director David Rickman said. "That is reflected in the new decisions on the rules which give greater clarity on the use of smart phones and advanced video technology."

As part of the review ahead of possible changes for 2016, the rules committee will examine other video issues, including the amount of precision needed in marking, lifting and replacing balls; making reference points for taking relief and appropriateness of penalty for a player returning an incorrect scorecard when unaware a rules violation had taken place.

"Adapting to developments in technology and video evidence is an important ongoing topic in making and applying the rules of golf," the joint statement said.

"In pursuing this continuing review, the USGA and The R&A will be guided by their longstanding position that a (tournament) committee should consider all evidence, regardless of the source, that may be relevant in determining the facts to which the rules must be applied.

"To reach a correct ruling, all evidence from witnesses concerning a possible breach of the rules should be considered.

"In their ongoing review of the use of video and other enhanced technology, the USGA and The R&A will continue to be guided by the view that, regardless of the timing or the type of evidence used, the integrity of the game is best served by getting the ruling right."

Read more on:    tiger woods  |  golf

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