No Time Wasted: USGA Makes Changes to “Video Evidence” Rulings

Posted by: mike April 27th, 2017

By James McAfee

Thank goodness, the USGA and the R&A didn’t waste time announcing a change to their “video evidence” rulings. The new rule states that a player will not be penalized when video evidence reveals things that could not reasonably be seen with the naked eye. The rule adjustment places more emphasis on player integrity, asking players to make a reasonable judgement about the marking of a ball on the green or over the correct place to drop a ball.USGA Penalty

Something had to be done after what happened to Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration. She was penalized four strokes when leading by two in the final round after a viewer at home spotted her replacing a ball on a short putt a little closer to the cup. That cost her two strokes and then she was hit with another two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard for the third round.

The first part of Decision 34-3/10 will be a lot easier to administer since players will not be penalized if the problem can only be seen by cameras zooming in on the stroke. That’s what happened to Anna Nordqvist in the US. Open where she was penalized for causing some sand to move in a bunker with her club, but she could not have seen it herself.

When determining a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location, it’s sometimes hard to be precise as one would be using video technology. So now a “reasonable judgement” standard will be applied. As long as the player does what can be reasonably expected, his judgment will be accepted even if shown wrong by the use of video evidence.

Defining what is “reasonable”could still leave rules officials with difficult decisions over what qualifies and what does not.

It will be interesting to see how well this new ruling addresses the next controversy.

James McAfee is currently the editor of the Knox County News-Courier in Texas. His articles also available at Former editor with Golf Digest and numerous newspapers in Texas and a golf administrator for more than 20 years with the Northern Texas PGA and the Dallas District Golf Association.