Rules Changes Eliminate Two-Shot Penalty for Scorecard Errors in 2018

by Maura Hutchinson

On Monday golf’s governing bodies, the USGA and the R&A announced two key rules changes that will go into effect from January 1, 2018.

The first is that players will no longer be penalised two shots for signing an incorrect scorecard if they were unaware of the rules violation at the time of signing. The second rules change is that neither body will respond to most TV viewers’ calls during a tournament.

Both of the changes seem to be inspired, at least in part, by the incident that happened at the LPGA’s first major this year, the ANA Inspiration. At the tournament in April American Lexi Thompson suffered a devastating loss to So Yeon Ryu after being levied a four-stroke penalty on the final day for a violation a TV viewer noticed from the third round. Thompson was only made aware of the penalty on the 12th hole of the fourth round. While she tried her best to carry on she ended up losing in a playoff to Ryu.

The Lexi incident at Mission Hills had many questioning the validity of viewers being able to call-in a penalty that on-course officials have missed. In recent years we have see a few instances where these late penalties have threatened to derail the entire morale of a tournament (i.e. Dustin Johnson’s first major win at the 2016 U.S. Open).

In a brief statement posted on Twitter Thompson applauded the governing bodies for the changes stating, “I am thankful that no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

The PGA and LPGA Tours have also made known their satisfaction with the changes, with both issuing statements confirming they will fully adopt the new Local Rule.