As many professional sports use or are moving towards using video replay to confirm or overturn official rulings, the game of golf is moving in the opposite direction.
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club addressed the issue of video technology when they announced several rules changes on Tuesday. Starting in 2014, golfers will no longer be penalized if their ball moves incrementally from a rest position without their knowledge — even if a video replay shows the ball actually moved.
In a joint statement, the organizations said that when “enhanced technological evidence” shows a ball has changed location, it “will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”
The rule change comes months after Tiger Woods was penalized during the BMW Championship when his ball moved slightly as he removed a twig from next to it. Woods was assessed a two-shot penalty and was stopped from signing his scorecard with a score of 70. Woods said he hadn’t seen the ball move, even upon video review.
Along with that rule, golf’s head organizations announced that players can now access weather reports on their smartphones, and a player can now walk forward up to 50 yards without losing the chance to play a provisional ball.