Wed, Oct 28, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Golf rules update more lenient on penalties

AP

DOUGHNUTS AND SPONGES

Another change involved artificial devices.

During a 30-minute wait in the middle of her round at the 2010 Safeway Classic, Juli Inkster put a weighted “doughnut” on her 9-iron. She was disqualified for violating Rule 14-3 banning artificial devices. Now that penalty is two shots (loss of hole in match play), and the penalty for any subsequent violation of the rule is disqualification.

D.A. Points was disqualified for that rule at Pebble Beach when he put a sponge ball under his arm to swing during a delay on the 18th tee.

Rickman said that also applies to range finders. To use it once is a two-shot penalty, twice is disqualification.

The other significant change to the rules involved when a ball at rest moves (Rule 18-2b). Currently, if a ball moves after it has been addressed, the player is deemed to have caused the movement and is penalized one shot. An exception was added in 2012 for when it is virtually certain that it was not the player’s fault (such as strong gusts).

Now, the rules no longer say players are guilty unless proved innocent. The penalty will be applied only if the facts show a player caused the ball to move.

“It’s not an absolute anymore,” USGA senior director of rules Thomas Pagel said.

This change comes with a new decision to serve as a guideline (18-2/0.5).

Among things an official would consider is what actions the player takes near the ball; how much time elapses between those actions and the ball moving; the lie of the ball (on a slope, perched on a tuft of grass) and weather conditions.

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