Viewer call-ins ended by new R&A and USGA video rules

Golf News

The ability for TV viewers to report infringements is about to end after new video rules were announced by the game's governing bodies...

If you’ve ever seen a player breaking a rule during a TV tournament and reached for the phone, don’t bother. It will no longer make any difference.

The opportunity for viewers to call-in and influence events during a competition have been ended.

A working group led by the R&A and USGA has unanimously adopted a new addition to the Rules of Golf on the use of video reviews in the game.

The group, which consists of the PGA, LPGA, LET and European Tours, along with the PGA of America, have agreed to implement new measures from January 1.

From that date, one or more officials will be used to monitor the video broadcast of a tournament to identify, and resolve, any rules issues.

It will also “discontinue any steps to facilitate or consider viewer call-ins as part of the Rules decision process”.

A new local rule, also available from January 1, may eliminate the additional two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on a scorecard when a player was unaware of it.

This local rule will become part of the new Rules of Golf in 2019.

The R&A and the USGA established the group in April to look at the role video can play when applying the Rules.

Armchair referees have been a fixture in golf for some years, most notably when Lexi Thompson was hit with a four shot penalty while leading by two at the ANA Inspiration.

Thompson, whose violation occurred during the third round, was penalised after the 12th hole on the final day, causing uproar in every corner of the golfing world.

video rules

The new protocols and local rule are the latest measures announced to address concerns about video evidence.

In April, Decision 34-3/10 was issued to limit the use of video through the introduction of a “reasonable judgement” standard and a “naked eye” standard.

David Rickman, executive director – governance at the R&A, said: “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.

“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 score card 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 and Amateur Status.

“As technology has continued to evolve, it has allowed us to evolve how we operate, as well.”

The new protocols also recognised the importance of limiting video review to material obtained from the committee’s broadcast partner.

Other video, such as from an individual’s smartphone or camera, will not be used under these protocols.

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