September 27, 2005

R&A relaxes one of game’s harshest rules

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LONDON (Reuters) - One of the harshest penalties in a sport
known for its etiquette and countless regulations will be
consigned to history from the start of next year, golf's
governing body said on Tuesday.

From January 1 2006, tournament committees will be allowed
to accept as an "administrative error" incidents where the
correct score has been entered on the wrong card, the Royal and
Ancient Golf Club (R&A) said in a statement.

"In the future, committees will be allowed to correct such
an error without penalty," the R&A said.

"Revised decision 6-6d/4 gives a committee the power to
strike the wrong name from an otherwise correctly completed
score card without limit of time."

Under this new interpretation of the rule, an incident such
as the Mark Roe scorecard mix-up at the 2003 British Open would
never happen.

Briton Roe and his Swedish playing partner Jesper Parnevik
were disqualified from that year's championship when the
players signed for the wrong scores after failing to exchange
cards at the start of Saturday's third round.

Roe's scorecard blunder cost the Englishman a tie for third
place going into the final day at Royal St George's after he
had charged into contention with a joint best-of-the-week 67.

Following that incident, the R&A changed its recording
system for the 2004 British Open but made clear the
responsibility for checking scorecards would remain with the

Among several other changes announced by the R&A and the
United States Golf Association (USGA) on Tuesday, distance
measuring devices will be permitted from the start of next

Tournament committees will be allowed to sanction the use
of devices like GPS based systems and laser rangefinders under
local rule. Such devices are widely used by leading players in
practice rounds.

"This applies to devices that measure distance only, not
any other conditions that might affect a player's game such as
wind or gradient," said the R&A.

Tuesday's changes are among 111 amendments made by the R&A
and USGA to the book Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Published
every two years, the new edition becomes effective for all
golfers from January 1, 2006.

The R&A is the game's worldwide governing body and works
closely with the USGA, which administers golf in Mexico and the
United States.