Golf changes its rules for use of video evidence

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Golf changes its rules for use of video evidence

Golf took another stand against video evidence Tuesday by announcing a new decision that would not penalize a player whose ball moves at rest if the movement is only detected by enhanced pictures.

It was the second time in the last two years that the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient have established new guidelines involving video.

The next edition of “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” effective Jan. 1 will include three new decisions, the most significant being 18/4. It says that when “enhanced technological evidence” shows that a ball moved, it will not be deemed to have moved if not “reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”

The new decision did not stem from Tiger Woods being penalized two shots in the BMW Championship in September. His ball moved barely a dimple as he tried to remove a twig from in front of the ball. The movement was captured by a videographer, and the violation was detected by an editor going through the film. Even after watching video after his round, Woods said he thought the ball only oscillated.

At the time, rules officials already had gone through multiple drafts of the new decision.

Decision 18/4 instead was an offshoot of Decision 33-7/4.5 in 2011. Under that decision, officials can waive disqualification for an incorrect scorecard if a player was unaware of a rules violation. The example was Peter Hanson, who double-hit a chip shot. The violation was only detected through HDTV played in super slow-motion.

Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, said an example of Decision 18/4 would be a player addressing his ball in the rough, and only a camera zoomed in on the ball showed it moving fractionally based on the blades of grass around the ball. In that case, the player would have no idea it had moved.

The “Decisions” are updated every two years. The Rules of Golf are updated every four years. AP
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