Golf and it’s governing have long been accused of being slow to change their ways as other sport’s make concerted efforts to modernise their rules.
While rugby, tennis and cricket vote on introducing video technology, golf courses as recently as last year voted against allowing women to join.
However, in long overdue measures, The R&A and the PGA Tour have today announced a modernisation program with the added aim of introducing some common sense to the rules.
— The R&A (@RandA) March 1, 2017
The biggest change will be welcome news to Shane Lowry following the debacle at the 2016 US Open Championship. With the Irishman leading the field at Oakmont, his nearest competition, Dustin Johnson, was accused of making his ball move at address on the fifth green.
The USGA decided, bizarrely, that they couldn’t make the decision at the time and instead informed the whole field that Johnson may or may not be hit with a penalty after the round. Lowry, teetering atop the leaderboard, now had no idea where he actually stood.
The news added further to the Clara native’s nerves while the American seemed to rip off the shackles and went on to shoot a winning 69. He was penalised after he finished.
Under the new rules, there would be no penalty.
Other new rules include reducing the time allowed to look for a lost ball to three minutes, permitting repair of spike marks, changing the protocol around drops and several other measures to give the game a less pedantic and formal image as the authorities look to grow the game further.
The most pertinent one for local hacks surrounds what to do with clubs damaged in anger. Under the current rules, if a player does any damage to his sticks in a fit of rage, that club can no longer be used for the duration of the round. Under these proposals, you can continue to use it as normal.
You can read all the amendments, that are set to for a six-month public comment period and should come into effect in January 2019, here.
Rory Murphy, Pundit Arena