Tuesday, 19 November 2013

New! Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014 - 2015

The front cover of The R&A’s Decisions book 2014-2015

Today, 19th November 2013, the USGA and the R&A jointly announced the publication of the revised ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015’, which contains 3 new, 59 revised, 1 renumbered, and 24 withdrawn Decisions. Most readers will know that whilst the Rules of Golf are reviewed every four years, amendments to the 1,200+ Decisions are made on a two-yearly cycle. Let me clarify that there will be no changes to the Rules for another two years; the Decisions are published to help golfers better understand how the Rules are to be applied and interpreted. They are particularly useful to those of you who like to provide accurate answers to questions on the Rules from those that you play with, or fellow Club or Society members, and I strongly recommend that you purchase this new edition. You can purchase the R&A publication (all countries other than US and Mexico) by clicking on this link and then on the 'Buy Now' button underneath the 2014-2015 Decisions book image (price £10.30). It will cost you exactly the same as on the main Amazon site and, if you use this link, I will make a small commission on anything that you purchase there, which helps me to defray my costs. Surprisingly, the US version of the Decisions book does not yet appear to be available, but I will upload a link on the same page as soon as it is.

This statement is taken directly from the R&A web site;

“Among the changes for 2014-2015, four decisions are particularly noteworthy:
  • New Decision 14-3/18 confirms that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round without breaching the Rules. Importantly, this new Decision also clarifies that players are permitted to access information on the threat of an impending storm in order to protect their own safety.
  • New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time. The R&A and the USGA have issued a Joint Statement on the Use of Video and other Visual Evidence* to further explain the governing bodies’ position on the use of this technology.
  • Revised Decision 25-2/0.5 helps to clarify when a golf ball is considered to be embedded in the ground through the use of illustrations.
  • Revised Decision 27-2a/1.5 allows a player to go forward up to approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball.”
*Click here for the statement on 'Use of Video and Visual Evidence'.
I have not yet had a chance to study the amendments but the one that stands out is the new Decision 18/4, as a result of which players will not be penalised for causing their ball to move if it was not reasonably discernable to the naked eye. Certainly, this Decision goes some way to appeasing those that complain vociferously about retrospective penalties being applied to players following calls from those watching the action on high definition television monitors. However, in my opinion it will not stop these calls from being made and now Committees will have to make the difficult decision as to whether the player knew that their ball had moved or not. For example, it might have saved Tiger Woods from being penalised for breaching Rule 18-2a at the BMW Championship in September, which I covered in this blog, as he claimed that he thought his ball had returned to its original position. But would it have reduced the widespread criticism that followed? 

My opinion on this subject can be summarised by the last sentence of the joint statement on ‘Use of Video and Visual Evidence’ linked to above; "the USGA and The R&A will continue to be guided by the view that, regardless of the timing or the type of evidence used, the integrity of the game is best served by getting the ruling right."

As soon as I have my copy of the new Decisions book I will check it for updates that may be required to any of my eDocuments and make those changes available to those that have purchased. Any new purchases (see this link for details of all of my eProducts on the Rules) will contain any necessary amendments.

Once again, here is the link to purchase 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015' R&A version.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.


John said...

With regards Decision 14-3/18 will this mean the snartphones will be allowed to be used in competitions then from next year?

Barry Rhodes said...


No, the Decision merely clarifies that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round. The other issues relating to the use of smart phones during a round, as outlined in my blog of 24th July 2010, still apply. In particular, I recommend that you follow the link at the end of that blog to see the R&A statement on 'The Rules Regarding Distance Measuring Devices', which covers the smart phone issues with an explanatory flow chart.


Anonymous said...

The head pro at my local club mentioned a decision for 2014 that allows for relief from exposed tree roots in closely mown areas. He stated it is only for the lie of the ball and intended swing not for stance. He mentioned the decision allows the club to adopt a local rule. Is this in the new decisions?
Thank you.

Barry Rhodes said...


The head Pro is referring to this revised Decision 32-8/8;

Q. May a Committee make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty if a player’s stroke is interfered with by exposed tree roots?

A. A Local Rule is authorised only if an abnormal condition exists. Generally, the existence of exposed tree roots is not abnormal. However, if the exposed tree roots are encroaching on to the fairway, a Committee
would be authorised to make a Local Rule providing relief under Rule 25-1 for interference from exposed tree roots when a ball lies on a closely-mown area. The Committee may restrict relief to interference for the lie of ball and the area of intended swing. (Revised)