New Decision 34-3/10 implements two standards for Rules committees to limit the use of video: 1) when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye,” and 2) when players use their “reasonable judgment” to determine a specific location when applying the Rules.
At it’s core this new decision will give the tournament committee more flexibility. If the committee feels that the only way of detecting an infraction of a rule is through the use of video technology the committee may choose to not assess the penalty. If it isn’t reasonable to believe the player could have seen the penalty “with the naked eye” the penalty can be waved.
This ruling would cover many of golf’s recent controversial rules decisions including Lexi Thompson replacing her ball incorrectly during the Saturday round of this year’s ANA Inspiration. It would also cover the ruling against Anna Nordqvist moving a few grains of sand during the final round of last year’s U.S. Women’s Open.
Missing from the ruling is the general removal of fans being able to call in or email possible rule infractions. However, both ruling bodies have formed a working group with the various major tours to look more closely at the issue.
While I believe this ruling is a positive for the game it will do little to solve the real issue. At some point someone will have to rule on what is reasonable to see with the naked eye. We will have a player commit a penalty that is visible on video replay but not assessed under this decision. How will the viewing public react to a player winning a tournament following an infraction that video replay proves existed?
The key to all of this is to be sure the majority of the golfing community comes together and is able to agree on the definition of what is reasonable to be seen with the naked eye. We have a road forward but it still has a few potholes to be filled.