10/27/2015

Golf is certainly slow to change but that doesn’t mean it never changes. Monday brought rule changes to the game so many have called for in the past.

Rule 18-2B

Chief among them is the withdrawal of Rule 18-2B, which stated that if a ball moved while the player was addressing it, the player would be penalized one stroke.

Of all the dumb rules in golf this was by far the dumbest. The rule only game into play, or most often, on windy days with slick greens. Players would stand away from their ball, or hesitate to place it by their marks even, rather than incur a one-stroke penalty for merely attempting to putt.

Thankfully, that scenario is gone. Rule 18-2 is still place—if a player is deemed to have influenced the ball’s movement during address he/she will still get a penalty—but the absurdity in this section of the sport is gone.

Rule 6-6d

Another of the major rule changes is that of the scoring card. From the USGA’s website:

Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card – A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to help Kyle, here…

Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.

More cynical minds might call this the Tiger Woods change. If you recall, Woods was charged a two-stroke penalty retroactively during the 2013 Masters because of an illegal drop that a viewer caught on TV. Woods, unaware of the infraction, signed what became an incorrect scorecard. Several people called for Tiger’s disqualification because of the rule that was in place.

This gives the players a little more leeway, which can be good and bad. In Woods’ case two years ago, it’s hard to find fault in his actions. Perhaps he should have known the rule better but that doesn’t mean he intentionally cheated.

Dustin Johnson faced a similar scenario at the 2010 PGA Championship when he grounded his club in a “bunker” at Whistling Straits. He strode off the green thinking he was in a playoff. Instead, a rules official caught up to him to inform him of infraction. However, if Johnson had signed the scorecard, or played on through the playoff without being caught, a true apocalyptic scene could have unfolded.

Now Eric here can sleep peacefully.

Rule 14-3

With the ever changing landscape of technology in the game, specifically range devices, another change was made to the rules in Rule 14-3 pertaining to artificial devices and Unusual Equipment.

It seems as though the progress made by Bushnell (our proud site sponsor) and other industry leaders won’t be handicapped the the USGA. We all know how much they like handicaps the way it is.

The changes are designed to bring the integrity back into the sport in this element of the game. The idea– don’t limit the technology, and let the players be the ones to answer for it.

A great rule for helping to keep the game progressive, helping promote business within the game and helping to give the consumers added freedom.

Rule 14-1b

The last major change is one we all knew was coming: the ban on anchored putters. The decision came down in 2013 to much controversy. Players with back ailments derided the pending change. Those who felt that anchor and belly putters gave golfers an advantage celebrated it.

I fall in the latter group. Part of winning tournaments is putting with nerves and fatigue. The anchored putter limits the effects of both, which adds more room for error—something that seems anti-golf. Could you imagine a slice-less driver? Deep(er)-grooved wedges?

There’s still much to correct in the official rule book for golf, but this week’s rule changes mark a good start.

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