January 01, 2018

Rules of Golf - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

First off, let me start by saying thank you and goodbye to Jack Pultorak (pictured right) who has been writing these Rules articles since he started them many years ago. I had the privilege of working with Jack for nearly 14 years and I can’t thank him enough for the knowledge and tutelage he has given me. Jack is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Rules and his expertise will surely be missed. Luckily for us all, he is only going into semi-retirement and he will still have a role in the FSGA’s Rules and Officiating Training. 

Let me quickly introduce myself; I am Darin Green and I am taking over some of the roles Jack previously held. I started with the FSGA as an intern back in 2004 and then quickly got involved with our Florida Junior Tour. The last few years I’ve enjoyed conducting most of our major men’s championships and teaching many Rules of Golf Seminars. While I continuously work on expanding my Rules knowledge, I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the Rules with you all twice each month.

Remember, we are still one full year away from the exciting modernization of the Rules. The USGA and R&A are announcing the final agreed-upon Rules in the Spring of 2018 which will go into effect January 1, 2019.

Now, there are two changes that go into effect in 2018, but they won’t affect most golfers: 

1.  The USGA and major professional tours have agreed to stop taking inquiries from TV viewers via call-ins or emails. At each tournament they are assigning someone to watch the TV coverage who will be able to contact the Committee if they witness something fishy, but the fans will not have any influence. Be a fan, just watch and enjoy!

2.  A new Local Rule is available to Committees beginning January 1, 2018 that eliminates the two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on the score card when the player was unaware of the penalty.

An example of this situation is the case with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration earlier in 2017. It was during the final round when the Committee became aware of a penalty that Lexi incurred during the third round (Lexi was unaware of the breach). Prior to 2016 she would have been disqualified for signing for  a lower score than she actually made, but a modification to Rule 6-6d (see Exception to 6-6d – Wrong Score for a Hole) allowed Lexi to stay in the competition. However, the Committee must impose the penalty she incurred plus an additional two-stroke penalty for signing a wrong score card – you may remember she was penalized a total of four strokes which left her in a playoff with So Yeon Ryu that she eventually lost.

Now in 2018, assuming the Committee puts this Local Rule in effect, if the same situation occurs Lexi would receive a two-stroke penalty for her Rule breach and no additional penalty for signing an incorrect score card, which most likely would have changed the outcome of the championship.

While these two changes won't effect most golfers, I believe it shows that the governing bodies are moving in the right direction. I look forward to the release of the modernized Rules in the Spring of 2018 and sharing my thoughts with you.

Best of luck on the course in 2018!

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