Golf fans will no longer be able to call in or email possible rules violations they witness while watching broadcasts of tournaments on television.
The golf governing bodies announced Monday that beginning Jan. 1, such information will not be considered in administering the rules of golf, according to a joint announcement made by the United States Golf Association and R&A.
The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, European PGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America are on board with the decision. As part of the new rule, all have agreed to assign one or more officials to monitor the video broadcast of a competition to help identify rules issues.
In addition, the USGA and R&A have approved the adoption of a local rule, also starting Jan. 1, that eliminates the additional 2-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on the scorecard when the player was unaware of the infraction. That penalty will permanently be removed when a modernization of the Rules of Golf takes place on Jan. 1, 2019.
The viewer call-in issue has been a hot topic in the game for years. The governing bodies have always maintained that information gathered from anywhere to properly administer the rules -- there are not typically rules officials with every group -- was fair game.
There have been numerous examples, with a prominent one involving Lexi Thompson at the LPGA's ANA Inspiration tournament in April, when it was discovered she had failed to properly mark her ball on a green.
A viewer emailed rules officials about the possible infraction, which occurred during the third round but was not verified until the final round. Thompson was penalized 2 strokes for the infraction and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard. She went on to lose the tournament in a playoff.