USGA and The R&A announce new ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf’

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

The U.S. Golf Association and The R&A, golf’s governing bodies, announced Tuesday four noteworthy revisions to the “Decisions on the Rules of Golf,” most notably the use of high definition digital recordings to determine infractions.

The change to the rule would have saved Tiger Woods two strokes in this year’s BMW Championship.

“New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) 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 revisions are effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“The Rules of Golf are constantly evolving,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf. “The Decisions review process is an opportunity for The R&A and the USGA to continue to help make the game more understandable and accessible for players, officials and others who participate in the game.”

David Rickman, The R&A’s executive  director – Rules and Equipment Standards, said, “It is important to consider carefully new developments in the game and that is reflected in the new Decisions on the Rules which give greater clarity on the use of smart phones and advanced video technology.”

The other three changes for 2014-2015 are:

  • New Decision 14-3/18 confirms that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round without breaching the Rules. Importantly, this new Decision also clarifies that players are permitted to access information on the threat of an impending storm in order to protect their own safety.
  • Revised Decision 25-2/0.5 helps to clarify when a golf ball is considered to be embedded in the ground through the use of illustrations.  
  • Revised Decision 27-2a/1.5 allows a player to go forward up to approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball.
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