The USGA and R&A have issued a joint statement, announcing a new ruling that will place more emphasis on a player's integrity rather than video evidence.
Decision 34-3/10, which will come into immediate effect, targets two scenarios that have recently brought the practicality of the rules into question.
The first will overrule a penalty if an infraction cannot be spotted with the naked eye. For example, Anna Nordqvist was penalised during a play-off at last year's US Open after her club grazed a few grains in a bunker, a violation that could only be spotted in high-definition.
The second ruling will see one of the R&A's proposed 30 changes, the reasonable judgement standard, ushered in early. This ruling will mean that a golfer will not be penalised if he/she has done “all that can be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make an accurate estimation or measurement ... even if later shown to be wrong by other means (such as video technology).”
It is unclear whether this decision would have altered the course of the ANA Inspiration, where American Lexi Thompson was penalised four shots after a TV viewer noticed her incorrectly mark her ball on the day previous. Nonetheless this decision will ensure that a spot, line or drop will now be dependent on a player's integrity, even if footage later shows that they were incorrect.
Video-related topics that require a deeper evaluation by the working group include the use of information from sources other than participants such as phone calls, email or social media and the application of penalties after a score card has been returned.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said,
“We have been considering the impact of video review on the game and feel it is important to introduce a Decision to give greater clarity in this area. Golf has always been a game of integrity and we want to ensure that the emphasis remains as much as possible on the reasonable judgment of the player rather than on what video technology can show.”
The LPGA immediately issued a statement applauding the move, 'We are pleased that the USGA and R&A expedited this important decision concerning the Rules of Golf. We applaud their effort to provide further guidance in these areas and bring change to the game so quickly.'
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