The Royal & Ancient and USGA Revise Disqualification Rule for Signing Wrong Scorecard
It was announced today that the R & A in conjunction with the USGA has changed the rule 6-6d that disqualifies a player for returning a wrong scorecard in a golf tournament. The revision is officially referred to as 33-7.
The issue at hand was the fact that if a player was discovered to have broken a (sometime obscure) rule and subsequently turned in a scorecard without the penalty added the player would be automatically disqualified from the event.
The reason why this rule has been questioned so many times is because it appeared to be kind of a “gotcha” rule. Reason being the player is not being disqualified for the infraction per se but rather an infraction of the scorecard rule.
We have seen this happen a few times recently most notably it occurred when Padraig Harrington’s ball moved what was described by European Tour Officials as “one and one half dimples” when he was marking his ball on the putting green.
This is a case where the revision to the rule would have kicked in and Harrington would not have been disqualified. Here’s why; the “tip” was sent in from a viewer by email. The viewer had used his high def TV and rewind button to see the ever so slight movement of the ball. Harrington is not a cheater and he certainly had no way of knowing that his ball had moved.
This said, he would have not been DQ’d however, he would have been assessed a penalty for the infraction.
Because of advancements of HD TV and video equipment on tour the R and A as well as the USGA feel as though the spirit of the rules of golf are still in place because at the time the rules were written this technology obviously did not exist.
This announcement includes a caveat. The revision states that a player must have no way of knowing about or gaining knowledge of the infraction prior to signing his scorecard.
Earlier this year Juli Inkster was DQ’d for using a weighted practice club after a delay on the tee box. This is another example of a situation where the revision would not have kicked in, it was clear and in plain site.
Players Can’t Be Ignorant of the Rules
The important thing to note here is that this revision to Rule 6-6d does not cover a player who is ignorant of the rules of golf. Honestly it is amazing how many tour players are somewhat ignorant when it comes to rules.
Annika Sorenstam is known as the ONLY PGA or LPGA tour player to have ever attended a USGA rules training event. Wow?
Earlier this year in Hawaii Camillo Villegas pitched up to a steep face and the ball rolled back down the face almost back to his feet. Prior to the ball coming to rest he swiped his wedge on the ground to remove the divot (loose impediment) from the line of the ball.
This is a clear violation and Villegas should have known the rule, this was not an infraction that could only be seen on HD TV it was very clear to the naked eye. Villegas was disqualified after a tip from a viewer for violating rule 6-6d, signing an inaccurate scorecard.
In this instance the revision would not have kicked in and the DQ would have stood. Certainly Villegas should have known that rule, I saw that happen live and certainly could see it was a violation.
Well known Twitter King Ian Poulter calls these whistle blowers “TV Snitches”. Quite a character that Ian.
So, the spirit of the rule is still very much in place and it is incredibly rare that the Royal and Ancient will ever even put a rule change into consideration. In this case it was necessary only because of unforeseen advancements in technology.
The R and A is in place to maintain the integrity of the game and to be the ultimate judge in all things golf rules. This is a good move by the R and A and the USGA as it maintains the spirit of the rule.
Frankly, I’m a purist and part of being a purist in golf is trusting the R and A to uphold the tradition and the essence of the great game of golf. I give the revision a thumbs up. I also applaud the fact that they got it out in time for the first major of the year. The revision is in place this week.
You can read the official R and A update here: Rule 33-7 Revision News
What are your thoughts?
p.s. In case you are wondering, this change would have had no effect on Dustin Johnson’s mishap at the PGA Championship last year. The revision only pertains to incorrect scorecards. DJ was made aware of the violation prior to returning his card.
Roberto DeVicenzo was Disqualified at the Masters in 1968 for signing a wrong scorecard. It appeared as though DeVicenzo would be in a playoff with Bob Goalby but he recorded a 4 instead of a birdie 3 on 17. This revision would not have helped him either.