USGA and R&A Tweak Video Evidence Rule
By Torleif Sorenson on 11/19/13
Earlier this morning, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient jointly announced a total of 87 changes to the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Perhaps the most noteworthy update is Decision 18/4:
New Decision 18/4 will provide that, where enhanced technological evidence 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 Decision ensures that a player is not penalized under Rule 18-2 in circumstances where the fact that the ball had changed location could not reasonably have been seen without the use of enhanced technology.
That rule would have been nice for Tiger Woods to have at the BMW Championship outside Chicago, where Woods (and a sizeable segment of the viewing audience) did not see his ball move in the rough, but some viewers did, thanks to high-definition television cameras. Woods was penalized for the incident, which led to Brandel Chamblee's ill-conceived "cheater" comment that got him bounced from Golf Magazine.

In their statement, the USGA said that the Rules of Golf Committees will discuss other issues revolving around television and video evidence, including...
...the necessary degree of precision in marking, lifting and replacing a ball, the estimation of a reference point for taking relief, and the overall question of the appropriate penalty for returning an incorrect score card where the player was unaware that a penalty had been incurred. As is true of the rules in many other televised sports, adapting to developments in technology and video evidence is an important ongoing topic in making and applying the Rules of Golf.
Interestingly, 24 Decisions have been officially withdrawn, three decisions (including 18/4 above) are new, 59 Decisions have been revised, and one was re-numbered, but otherwise unchanged.
  • 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.

  • 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.

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