Golf’s most controversial ruling is set to be scrapped for 2018: call-ins from television viewers will no longer be considered to assess any potential rule violation which may have occurred, after golf’s law makers announced multiple changes to golfing laws for 2018 and beyond.
On Monday, the USGA and the R & A confirmed that they will no longer welcome call-ins from TV viewers as of 1 January, 2018. Officials will now monitor the live footage on site to identify if rules violations have occurred.
Calls for the ruling to be changed intensified earlier this year when American golfer Lexi Thompson was disqualified at the ANA Inspiration in Palm Springs, California.
A television viewer had contacted tournament officials as the final round was underway to bring attention to Thompson’s actions, during the third round, when she marked her ball and placed it back down roughly a half-inch from the original spot.
— Oddschecker Au (@OddscheckerAu) April 3, 2017
The 22 year old was given an explanation as to what the two-stroke penalty was for: two strokes for improperly replacing her ball on the second-to-last green of her third round, which meant she had then played the ball from the wrong spot, and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard.
The major champion was two shots clear on the final day when she was informed that she was being assessed a four-stroke penalty. Thompson's two-stroke lead became a two-stroke deficit in that instance.
Somehow Thompson regrouped for the remaining six holes to force a play-off with So Yeon Ryu, who won with a birdie on the first extra hole.
It was a grossly unfair situation to be in, live on television where TV audience knew of the violation before herself. The 22 year-old released a statement via her Twitter this morning, reacting to the news,
My statement on the changes this morning...Happy Holidays! 🎁 pic.twitter.com/krrcdF6iAo
— Lexi Thompson (@Lexi) December 11, 2017
The executive director - governance of the R & A said on their website today,
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.
The level of collaboration with our partners has been both vital and gratifying as we look to the future, said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.
Furthermore players who mistakenly sign for the wrong score when they are unaware of a penalty will no longer be punished.