Golf Australia

''Call-ins'' rule changed

Lexi Thompson
Lexi Thompson walks off 18 at the ANA Inspiration as So Yeon Ryu celebrates her win.

The Lexi Thompson furore has led to a quick rule change by the bodies responsible for golf's rules, the USGA and the R&A.

Under the new rule, invoked immediately to limit the use of video evidence, players will be protected from being penalised for infractions that "could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye''.

The USGA and the R&A have not removed the ability of viewer call-ins, such as the one that nailed Thompson in the ANA Inspiration tournament in California recently after it was shown that she had incorrectly marked and replaced her ball on a putting green during the third round.

The infraction was discovered a day later after a call-in from a viewer, and Thompson was slapped with a two-shot penalty for the first infraction, and another two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard at the end of the round. Leading by three shots at the time in the final round and seemingly cruising, she lost the lead in an instant and ended up losing a playoff to So Yeon Ryu, of South Korea.

There was also outrage at the penalty applied to American Dustin Johnson during last year's US Open, when he was deemed to have moved his ball while addressing a putt during the final round. Again, the infraction was discovered after a television viewer called in to report it.

"As technology has continued to improve, it has enhanced the viewing experience for fans but it has also raised the possibility of uncomfortable scenarios where the TV cameras see something but maybe the naked eye cannot," said Thomas Pagel, senior director for Rules of Golf and Amateur Status for the USGA. "Addressing that issue immediately is good for the game."

The governing bodies had talks at the Masters in Augusta recently after the Thompson ruling caused a backlash in the golfing community, particularly among players sympathetic to Thompson's cause.

They are already in the midst of a substantial "modernisation" review of the Rules of Golf to be implemented in 2019.

The organisations have also established a working group of LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America representatives to begin a comprehensive review of broader video issues, including viewer call-ins, which arise in televised competitions.

Video-related topics that require a deeper evaluation by the working group include the use of information from sources other than participants such as phone calls, email or social media, and the application of penalties after a score card has been returned.


Posted by RulesRRules at
20/05/2017 06:51 PM
I don't understand these whining comments. The rules are their in black and white and Lexi broke them. She has explicitly agreed that she broke the rules and must accept the penalty. No point in having any rules if their application is discretionary once a breach is discovered before an event is concluded.
Posted by Frank Cusmano at
18/05/2017 01:11 AM
The rules officials have demonstrated gross inconsistency; I get the initial 2 strokes penalty, but consider this: if the breach had happened on day 4 and Lexi had claimed the tournament and the armchair official had called after the event, would those wise officials strip Lexi of her title the following day?? I`d wager not!!
Posted by John at
10/05/2017 07:49 PM
If viewer call ins should ever have counted then the Maradona 'Hand of God' Goal 1986 World Cup goal should be taken away. Lexi Thompson made a mistake so apply a 2 shot penalty but who in their right mind can see the additional 2 shot penalty as fair. The card she signed was correct at the time of signing. Original rules of Golf - play it as it lies, count every stroke & when in doubt, do what's fair.
Posted by R stayte at
10/05/2017 04:28 PM
I do not see why Lexi Thompson should of been penalised 4 shots 2 maybe when she signed her card it was correct ..this happened the next day full stop..
Posted by Brendan at
09/05/2017 03:26 PM
Regarding Dustin Johnson, he called the move on himself at the time, no viewer called in. He did not touch the ball and said he didn't cause it to move, the rules official at the time concurred and he proceeded without penalty - until USGA officials reviewed the video and deemed DJ had supernatural powers and was able to move the ball without touching it. Penalty! That was a farce. Lexi Thompson should have been just penalised 2 shots, and only if it was noted before she signed the card. There's potential she saw hew ball was in a depression and she deliberately moved it out to get an advantage, the video is clear that this is a possibility. The doubt should go to the penaly in that case. But if she is not called out for it before she signs her card then she should get away with it, like in soccer and all other sports.
Posted by Simon Tyndale-Biscoe at
02/05/2017 02:45 PM
In relation to the Lexi Thompson rules debacle, how could something on video be brought to the attention of tournament officials a day after it happened. What if that had happened in the last round. Would the LPGA or applicable ruling body apply the penalty after the tournament had finished and then take away the win from the person who'd been declared the winner? I think not. Also, aren't players the people who are supposed to adjudicate on the rules during play. And if they make a mistake, aren't the rules officials supposed to be checking. It seems like the officials are leaning on the TV viewer to help them do their job. Lucky players who don't make it onto TV, about 90% of the field I'd say. Surely once cards are signed and accepted by the officials, the scores stand? I'm very interested in what transpires.

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