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Rules of Golf updates

Rule change eliminates 'Dustin Johnson penalty' at Erin Hills for U.S. Open

Alec Lewis and Gary D’Amato Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dustin Johnson won't have to worry about a penalty during the U.S. Open at Erin Hills this week like the one he incurred in the final round of the 2016 championship at Oakmont Country Club. The rule that affected Johnson and caused a controversy has since been altered. On Dec. 8, 2016 the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club enacted a local rule that eliminates penalties when the ball is accidentally moved on the putting green. It went into effect Jan 1, 2017 On the fifth hole of that Sunday round last year, Johnson's ball moved as his putter inched toward it. He immediately raised up. Did he cause the ball to move or did it move on its own? If the latter was the case, would he be charged the one-stroke penalty that Rule 18-2 then required? After conversation about the situation, referee Mark Newell instructed Johnson to play on with no penalty. But after officials watched a video review, they concluded Johnson had caused his ball to move. Six holes later, Johnson was informed that he had incurred a penalty stroke. Although he won the Open by three strokes, the moment was etched in the memories of many.

The NNGA as well as the USGA and PGA have adopted this new local rule for all compitions. 

When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment.

The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.

This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.

Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”





A fellow competitor after three putting grabbed a club and hit his ball into the desert. Is there a penalty?

His temper will cost him two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. Per rule 7-2 a player must not make a practice stroke during the play of a hole. Between the play of holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that he may practice putting or chipping on or near:
a) the putting green of the hole last played,
b) any practice putting green, or
c) the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play under (Rule 6-7).
The committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1) prohibit:
a) practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played and
b) rolling a ball on the putting green of the hole last played.

Here is the new decision from the Lexi Thompson incedent

Under the new decision, called Decision 34-3/10, those running a tournament can limit the use of video when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye,” and when players use their “reasonable judgment” to determine a specific location when applying the rules.
Hole closed?  Temporary greens or tees in play?   Now what?   Answer here
Modernizing Golf's Rules  Click here for link to website explaining the proposed changes.
What to do when your ball damages the hole, like Russell Henley's approach shot.  Link here

New Local Rule takes effect Jan 1.
  (Note: this is a LOCAL rule and your club will need to adopt it first, it is not automatic.)
Link to USGA site for video and explanation.  Click Here
Check out the new rule in action at the WGC Dell Match Play
Link to Video Here