Armchair golf fans stopped from “calling-in” on rules

Lexi Thompson walks off the 18th green after losing the play-off to So Yeon Ryu during the final round of the ANA Inspiration at Dinah Shore.  Picture: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Lexi Thompson walks off the 18th green after losing the play-off to So Yeon Ryu during the final round of the ANA Inspiration at Dinah Shore. Picture: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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Armchair golf fans will no longer be able to “call-in” rules infringements after a new set of protocols for reviewing video coverage was agreed across the game.

The changes being introduced on 1 January also include the introduction of a local rule to prevent players potentially being harshly hit for an infringement they were unaware of.

That will see an additional two-stroke punishment for failing to include a penalty on their scorecard being eliminated in the interim before being permanently removed when the modernised Rules of Golf take effect on 1 January, 2019.

The change follows the influence of armchair viewers being called into question after American Lexi Thompson was hit with a four-shot penalty during the ANA Inspiration, a women’s major, earlier this year.

Thompson had two shots added to her score for mis-marking her ball in the third round of the event in California and a further two shots for signing an incorrect card.

She was informed of the penalties out on the course in the final round and subsequently lost in a play-off.

The new set of protocols for reviewing videos was agreed by a working group led by the R&A and USGA and also consisting of the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America.

The measures being introduced also include one or more officials being assigned to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to “help identify and resolve Rules issues as they arise”.

David Rickman, the R&A’s senior rules official, said: “This has clearly become an important issue in the sport that we felt we should address at this stage ahead of the implementation of the updated Rules of Golf in 2019.

“We have concluded that whilst players should continue to be penalised for all breaches of the Rules during a competition, including any that come to light after the score card is returned, an additional penalty for the score card error is not required.”

His counterpart at the USGA, Thomas Pagel, added: “The level of collaboration with our partners has been both vital and gratifying as we look to the future.

“As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.”

The changes were welcomed by Thompson, the world No 2, in a post on Twitter. “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” she wrote on the social media site.

“In my case, I am thankful that no-one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”