From the No Surprise Here files: The USGA isn’t expected to make any changes in the wake of the Lexi Thompson rules debacle.
More specifically, they don’t intend to speed up rules changes that go into effect in 2019, which would eliminate “later evidence” rulings (in the Thompson case: a viewer report dealt with the day after the incident). Also important to note: The USGA still doesn’t have a problem with viewer call-ins, only that they are dealt with in a timely manner.
U.S. golf’s governing body introduced the revision to the “later evidence” dictum in February, indicating that it, along with all other proposed revisions, are open for six months of feedback before finalizing their inclusion in the next Rules of Golf.
“We are in the middle of the feedback period. And there is no intent at this time to expedite the process before anything is final.”
Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rule of Golf & Amateur Status
“No intent…to expedite.” Could be the USGA’s next marketing slogan. An interesting sidebar in all of this that nobody seems to be mentioning, before 2016, signing an incorrect scorecard would have disqualified Thompson. Imagine the ire then!
Writing for the USGA’s website, Pagel explains.
“Because Lexi did not know she had incurred this penalty, she did not include it when she signed and returned her score card at the end of the third round, which was a further breach of the rules under Rule 6-6d. Before 2016 this would have resulted in her disqualification.
“Under a 2016 rule change, Rule 6-6d now has an exception so that when the reason for the score card error was that the player did not include a penalty she did not know she had incurred, the player will receive an additional two-stroke penalty rather than being disqualified.”
Let’s take a higher level view of this mess: Isn’t the structure of all this odd? Why do the PGA Tour and LPGA outsource rule-writing and administration to an organization that has very little to do with professional golf? Imagine a parallel in another sport?
At the very least, it’s not a good look when controversy arises and all the tours can do is throw up their hands and say “The USGA writes the rules, we just follow them!” How is that satisfactory for anyone?
Here’s the rub: The USGA is an organization run by amateur golfers for amateur golfers. They have no business meddling in the professional game. This has been true for a long time (forever?). Recent rules incidents, such as the one involving Dustin Johnson at Oakmont last year and the Lexi Thompson incident, drive home this point.