New rule will limit the use of video review in golf tournaments

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In a remarkably swift move for golf’s ruling bodies, the R&A and USGA have announced a change to the rules of golf which will limit the use of video review.

As a result of the controversy surrounding Lexi thompson’s four-stroke penalty during the final stages of the recent ANA Inspiration tournament, the R&A and USGa have reacted quickly to introduce a new decision to the rules of golf which will reduce the use of video evidence while enforcing the rules of golf and place the emphasis back on player integrity.

Decision 34-3/10 will be effective immediately and introduces two new standards which will allow roles officials to moderate the use of video review.

Essentially if video shows a player breaking the rules but in a way that could not have been seen with the “naked eye”, then there will be no penalty. The same goes for a situation where players were just using their “reasonable judgement” at the time to apply the rules, there will also be no penalty.

From the USGA website:

The first standard states, “the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not 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. This is an extension of the provision on ball-at-rest-moved cases, which was introduced in 2014.

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.

This new Decision has been warmly recieved across the golf community, especially how qucily it has been implemented into the Rules of Golf.

But what if these were in place before “the Lexi Thompson incident”?

There are a number of golf tournaments that would have turned out differently had this Decision been in place before-hand such as the 2013 Masters when Tiger Woods was penalised two-strokes after a video review deemed he’d dropped his golf ball in the wrong place after his ball had cruelly hit the flagstick and bounced into the water.

But we can’t help but think about how this Decision would have affected the outcome of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament spurred the USGA and R&A into action.

So Yeon Ryu won the ANA Inspiration after beating Lexi Thompson in a playoff. Thompson had earlier been penalised four-strokes for incorrectly replacing her marked ball in the third round and finished the tournament in tears and with a huge amount of public sympathy.

If this new Decision had been in place before the tournament, Thompson would not have been penalized and would now have a major championship golf trophy to her name.

But with a number of hard questions being asked about how she marks and replaces her golf ball.

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