Lexi Thompson applauds the USGA's game-changing new rule

Frederick Owens
December 12, 2017

The fact that armchair golf fans could conceivably shape the outcome of a professional event was ludicrous, but luckily that power has been taken away from them.

This practice of television viewers calling in to allege rules infringements has been an ongoing issue in the sport, most notably at last year's ANA Inspiration - a Major on the women's circuit - when a two-shot penalty was handed out to Lexi Thompson for failing to replace her ball properly, which was picked up on slow-motion replay.

Thomas Pagel, the USGA senior director of the Rules of Golf, was clearly pleased to be rid of the anomaly. After all, it should be rules officials, not fans, determining when a player has violated the rules of golf.

All of the organizations represented on the working group - the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA, Ladies European Tour, the PGA of America - studying this issue since April will introduce the local rule in 2018, and the former two-stroke penalty for not calling a penalty will be permanently removed when the modernized Rules of Golf take effect on January 1, 2019.

"The message is: We are actively monitoring it", Pagel said.

More news: Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson to transfer

Thompson was informed of her fate by a rules official at the 12th hole, just what she needed after posting a bogey.

Further, the local rule, which becomes available from January 1, 2018, eliminates the additional two-stroke penalty applied to players for failing to include a penalty on the score card when the player was unaware of the penalty.

These changes are meant to prevent the kind of messy situation that arose at the 2017 ANA Inspiration, where tournament leader Lexi Thompson was slapped with four penalty strokes - two for an improper mark, and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard.

The severity of that ruling was compounded by the awkwardness of its timing: though the initial infraction took place during the third round, Thompson wasn't penalized until more than midway through the final round, after a viewer emailed the LPGA, pointing out the breach. That doesn't eliminate TV viewers from noticing violations - such as the incorrect drop by Tiger Woods at the 2013 Masters - but tournament officials will not have a method for fans to call, email or text.

Now only the options available on site, including players, caddies, marshals, spectators and video from the television broadcast partner, will be considered when reviewing a rules violation. Other video, such as from an individual's smartphone or camera, will not be used under these protocols.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

Discuss This Article