The USGA and R&A have finally made a decision on video call ins from fans. After the a crazy year of armchair referees calling in to challenge and effectively award unrealistic penalty strokes on professional golfers, the governing bodies of golf have made a decision. Unfortunately, their direction is weak and does not address the root of the problem!
The failure of the governing bodies to effectively address the viewer call in is a bit disheartening. They half-heartedly bowed to the social media pressure of the Lexi Thompson debacle or the Anna Nordqvist grain of sand foolishness and as a result have offered this compromise.
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.
The first standard states, “the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not be seen with the naked eye.” An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke.
If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise. This is an extension of the provision on ball-at-rest-moved cases, which was introduced in 2014.
The second standard applies when a player determines a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location in applying the Rules, and recognizes that a player should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. Examples include determining the nearest point of relief or replacing a lifted ball.
So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence. USGA Rules
I read the text from the USGA and find that their decision falls short anything meaningful. The tournament committee still has wiggle room to determine if the call in has any validity. Their decision is nothing more than trying to placate the masses without having to make a real stance.
My stance is that the only decision that should have come from the governing bodies is that call-ins are no longer entertained. Call-ins have no place in the golfing world, but unfortunately the overall decision regarding these needless would be referees is about ratings. I think that the USGA and the R&A had a chance to make a real impact, but economics prevents any real change.
So, moving forward, we shall see if the decision has made any real difference on call-ins. Unfortunately, I am not convinced. What do you think?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!