Far Hills - Starting on January 1, 2018, the USGA will end the practice of allowing viewers at home to call in penalties on players.
The change is part of a two-pronged solution announced by golf’s governing bodies on Monday:
- Assign one or more officials to monitor the video broadcast of a
competition to help identify and resolve Rules issues as they arise
- Discontinue any steps to facilitate or consider viewer call-ins as part of the Rules decision process
In the past, viewers were able to call in and report rules infractions if they spotted them while watching televised events.
The most controversial incident involving such an intervention came
during the final round of last year's Ana Inspiration, one of the five
women's majors, when Lexi Thompson was left in tears after a television
viewer’s email alerted officials to a rules violation for a 1-inch ball
placement error made the day before.
Thompson's three-shot lead was wiped out by a four-shot penalty with
only a few holes left to play and the title went to So Yeon Ryu in a
Several male and female pros strongly condemned the incident
afterwards - including Tiger Woods, who received a two-shot penalty at
the 2013 BMW Championship after a similar intervention by a TV viewer.
Thompson took to Twitter on Monday to welcome the rules change,
saying she was "thankful that no one else will have to deal with an
outcome such as mine in the future."
By installing a team of rules officials to monitor television
coverage, the USGA is aiming to replace the potential chaos of viewer
call-ins with a more effective, organised system.
It will also eliminate the added two-stroke penalty a player receives
for failing to include the original penalty on their scorecard.
“We stepped back and said, if the player is not aware and the player
just got it wrong, let's go back in and add the original penalty,” said
Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf and Amateur
Status. “But we don’t need to add the additional two-stroke penalty.”