The USGA and the R&A have recently released a new Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015. If you are not familiar with the Decisions on the Rules book – it is a book about 10 times the size of the Rules of Golf book and contains 1,200 entries addressing specific situations under the Rules of Golf. Basically, this book contains real world examples of how the rules of golf are applied to different situations. On November 19, 2013 the USGA and R&A (the two governing bodies of golf) released the new Decisions on the Rules book which included a few new interesting decisions along with a total of 87 new changes.
David Rickman, The R&A’s executive director – Rules and Equipment Standards, said, “It is important to consider carefully new developments in the game and that is reflected in the new Decisions on the Rules which give greater clarity on the use of smart phones and advanced video technology.”
The four particularly interesting new changes to the decisions are as follows:
- New Decision 14-3/18 confirms that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round without breaching the Rules. Importantly, this new Decision also clarifies that players are permitted to access information on the threat of an impending storm in order to protect their own safety.
- New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.
- Revised Decision 25-2/0.5 helps to clarify when a golf ball is considered to be embedded in the ground through the use of illustrations.
- Revised Decision 27-2a/1.5 allows a player to go forward up to approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball.
The decision to allow players to access weather reports on a smartphone is definitely an interesting one. Previously, access to a smartphone was prohibited unless there was a local rule allowing distance measuring devices AND the smartphone had no other “features or applications” installed on that device that would render it non-conforming (Rule 14-3).
The decision regarding the use of TV footage to determine whether or not a ball oscillated or moved from it’s original position is reminiscent of how the NFL uses TV footage to review rulings that might have been tough to determine by the naked eye.
Decision 27-2a/1.5 that allows a player to go approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball can be a pretty nice benefit if a few situations. If you happened to hit a tree branch close to the tee or maybe can’t see around a corner, then being able to walk 50 yards to get a better view could save you some time and mental anguish during a tournament.
The rules of golf are constantly evolving – so knowing them will help you make better decisions and save strokes during a tournament.