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Major Change: Reasonable Judgment in Estimating and MeasuringGolf's New Rules

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

New Rule: Decision 34-3/10, a decision that was introduced in April 2017, is now incorporated into the Rules as Rule 1.3b(2) so that when the player estimates or measures a spot, point, line, area or other location, his or her reasonable judgment is accepted:

  • If the player did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make a prompt and accurate estimation or measurement.
  • This means that the player's reasonable judgment is upheld even if later shown to be wrong by other information (such as video technology).

Reasons for Change:

The Rules generally rely on the integrity of the player, and this is a natural and appropriate extension of this trust in the player.

There are many times when the Rules require a player to estimate or measure a spot, point, line, area or other location, such as when the player:

  • Uses a ball-marker to mark a ball’s spot and then replace the ball, or
  • Estimates the spot where the previous stroke was made when playing again under penalty of stroke and distance or when a stroke has been cancelled, or
  • Needs to find a reference point or line for taking relief (such as the nearest point of complete relief or the line when taking unplayable ball relief), or to determine the extent of a relief area (such as measuring a fixed distance from a reference point).
  • Estimates the location of his or her knee when dropping a ball.

Such judgments need to be made promptly, and players often cannot be precise in doing so.

So long as the player did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances, the player gets no penalty for small inaccuracies, even if an advantage is gained.

Accepting a player’s reasonable judgment limits the detailed analysis that can arise from the use of enhanced technology (such as video review when golf is televised).