R&A and USGA, a good reactive twosome


R&A Rules Ltd at the iconic Royal Golf Club of St Andrews
USGA office and museum, Far Hills (NJ)

The USGA and the R&A have issued a new decision to limit the use of video evidence in the game, effective immediately, including viewer call-ins, which arise in televised competitions. They have also established a working group (LPGA, PGA Tour, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America) to immediately begin a comprehensive review of broader video issues,
New Decision 34-3/10 aims to limit the use of video when it reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye”. An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke. If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the rules, even when video technology shows otherwise.
Recent facts have brought the matter on top of the pile, Lexi Thompson being a good example when she suffered a 4-stroke penalty after a TV viewer call claiming that she replaced her ball just a fraction of an inch away from its original location just a foot away from the hole… She then lost the tournament, just the ANA Inspirational, the first major of the year.

Disillusioned Lexi Thompson for a fraction of an inch

The second standard applies when a player determines a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location in applying the Rules, and recognizes that a player should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. Examples include determining the nearest point of relief or replacing a lifted ball. The USGA and The R&A have decided to enact this decision immediately because of the many difficult issues arising from video review in televised golf. They will consider additional modifications recommended by the working group for implementation in advance of Jan. 1, 2019, when the new code resulting from the collaborative work to modernise golf’s Rules takes effect.
Next on line, the governing bodies will do their best to conceive one and only handicapping system valid worldwide. Not an  easy matter either…

(from a R&A and USGA release, 25.04. 2017)