The two golf governing bodies that determine the rules of the game have agreed to the introduction of the equivalent of a television match official from January 1st 2018.
All tournaments played under the rules of each of the PGA TOUR, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and The PGA of America will abide by the new regulations which will include the assigning of an official to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to help identify and resolve Rules issues as they arise
The acceptance of complaints from armchair viewers and the acting on those in order to prevent rule violations will no longer be part of the game.
The changes have come about swiftly after the working group was established in April of this year. It was prompted in part by the four-stroke penalty Lexi Thompson incurred for being reported as having improperly marked her ball on the green and then not accounting for it on her signed scorecard. As she did not even know about the penalty this was a bit harsh and has now been recognised as such.
Next year that double hit will be removed as well, a move welcomed by players.
“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,” said David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A.
“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 scorecard 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. “As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.”
The new video review will only use footage available from the host broadcaster at each tournament and will not be allowed to include video footage shot by fans on smartphones or using any other technology. This will include footage shot and recorded but not necessarily broadcast.
Most other sports where video technology has been introduced have brought in new technology partners including the likes of HawkEye at Croke Park.
To do so across the wider expanse of a golf club and only to use it for four days a year would be prohibitively expensive.
Image Credit European Tour