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USGA Gets Rid of Armchair Rules Officials

Club armchair in a golf green

Last April, Lexi Thompson lost the ANA inspiration because of a viewer’s call-in saying that she improperly moved the ball. That four-stroke penalty Thompson received during the final round of the year’s first major had cost her the win.

Here’s what happened at the ANA Inspiration:

An unidentified viewer emailed officials during the final round of the ANA about a possible infraction regarding the way Thompson replaced her ball on a 1-foot putt during the third round. She was notified of her penalty while walking to the 13th tee on Sunday afternoon. Her two-stroke lead was gone and she lost the tournament, even after signing her scorecard.

This had a lot of people stirred up and ever since, golfers and fans have been fighting against this.

She was made aware of the rule change shortly after she finished play at the QBE Shootout in Naples, Fla., where she tied for fourth with partner Tony Finau.

Here’s what she had to say on the new changes:



Thompson probably wishes this rule was revised long ago, but she’s thankful that no future player will have to deal with this like she had to.

As of January 1, 2018, the professional tours will no longer consider reports of rules violations by viewers.

The video protocol does not alter the general principle under the rules that officials will consider information from any credible source, such as witnesses on the course, players, caddies, marshals, and spectators. However, only video produced by the broadcaster of the event will be reviewed.

In addition, the rules will be modified to eliminate the two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on a scorecard where the player is unaware of the penalty.

It’s odd that an individual outside of the sport’s jurisdiction with no connection to the event as a player or official might have a role in the officiation process and thus determine results. This is the unfortunate outcome of a growing televised viewership and the increased connectivity resulting from social media and technology. The USGA finally corrected a rule that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Finally, common sense has prevailed.

Do you agree with the USGA’s new rule change? Let us know by stopping by at Cape and Islands Golf Shop in Hyannis, MA!