USGA, R&A revise disqualification rule


AUGUSTA – In a decision announced Thursday morning just minutes before the start of the 75th Masters, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and US Golf Association revised a scorecard disqualification rule.
The change, made effective immediately so it would be cover the year’s first major championship, allows for a player who signs an incorrect scorecard not to be disqualified from a tournament in certain limited circumstances. Advances in video technology, notably slow-motion television replays that allow home viewers to see errors that golfers themselves might not even spot, sparked the reinterpretation. The Rules of Golf revision covers a situation where a player is unaware he has breached a rule “because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his scorecard.”
At the discretion of officials, a player who makes such a mistake would still receive the penalty associated with the error but would not be disqualified. “This is a logical and important step in our re-evaluation of the impact of high-definition video on the game,” said US Golf Association executive director Mike Davis. “We collectively believe that this revised decision addresses many video-related issues never contemplated by the Rules of Golf.” While issuing the revision, the USGA and R&A confirmed that disqualification remains the penalty for scorecard errors arising from ignorance of the Rules of Golf. The switch forces a player to know and abide by the games rules while allowing for the rare situation where it is reasonable to assume a player is unaware of the fact he has made a violation.
“For some time we’ve been concerned that, in certain limited circumstances, disproportionate disqualification penalties have been required by the rules,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.