Rule That Cost Webb Simpson May Change
By mustang6560 on 5/2/11
The USGA and R&A is considering a change to the rule that cost Webb Simpson a shot at his first PGA Tour victory.
Speaking at the Media Day for the US Open, USGA Executive Committee member Thomas O’Toole told assembled reporters that the game’s governing bodies – the USGA and R&A – are considering a proposal to create an exception to the rule which impacted Webb Simpson on Sunday at the 15th hole of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

. . .

If, in O’Toole’s words, “it can be known or virtually certain” that a ball addressed by a player then moves because of a factor not caused by the player in question (e.g., wind), then that player would not be subject to the 1-stroke penalty Simpson faced on Sunday.
I must admit, I am surprised both ruling bodies have responded so quickly. Is it just me, or does the USGA and R&A typically respond to complains about the rules with "too bad".

The rule in question here is Rule 18-2b and it states:
b. Ball Moving After Address

If a player's ball in playmoves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.

The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.
To me, it makes sense to adjust this rule. If the player did not in any way cause the ball to move, then he should not be assessed a penalty.

The problem I do see, though, is this gets into a large gray area. Can you be "virtually certain" that a player did not cause the ball to move? If the player steps near the ball and it moves, did he cause it to move? Or was it a "factor not caused by the player"? As much as I don't like the way the current rule is written, I think it would be hard to regulate otherwise.

That being said, in my opinion, unless the player kicks the ball or hits it with his club, then there should be no penalty. If a player walks by a ball but doesn't kick it and it moves, no penalty.

Oh, and the USGA rules committee swears this has nothing to do with Webb's penalty Sunday. They've been considering this for "years".

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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
I think the main thing is that this rule is more applicable in the days when greens were the length of fairway grass. It would be virtually impossible for this to happen if the player didn't touch the ball. Nowadays, though, the greens are shaved down to dirt and breathing on the ball will make it move. I think that's the problem. if they don't address it, then they're going to have to let the greens get a little more hairy and i'm sure they don't want to do that. it was talked about all over the golf world today and that seems to be the general consensus. Hopefully they make the right decision in the wording. .. I would do it like this: If the ball moves after the player takes his stance and addresses the ball and it's known that they did not touch the ball, the ball must be replaced. If the ball moves by wind before the player reaches the ball or before they take their stance, it's a continuation of the previously played shot - provided the player doesn't unduly delay the round waiting for the wind.
Banker85 says:
The rule is the rule. Suck it up cry baby's.
Neo says:
Because no one wants to watch that kind of B.S.! What was that? The wind blew and moved ball over a half-dimple? Well one stroke penalty, and oh by the way that cost him the tournament too. People just don't want to sit around and watch tournaments that are decided on trivial and antiquated rules like this.
Torleif Sorenson says:
@Neo and BX, you're both right; the green conditions have dramatically changed. And for those 'lower-end' courses where the greens stimp slower, so what? The elimination of this stupid rule will have no effect at all. And consider desert and links courses where the wind is clearly a factor! If the player didn't make the ball move, he or she should never have to pay an unfair penalty.

1000 points for both of you.
Dusty23 says:
remember the old story that if your ball is hanging on the edge of the hole that you should walk up and stand near it to block the sun and create a shadow which would make the grass wilt and then your ball would fall in the hole. Now I've never seen that work, but if its true and i created a shadow while addressing a putt and the ball moves, what am i supposed to wait till the sun moves so i can't make a shadow, talk about slow play! I can tee a ball, knock it off the tee while addressing it and retee without penalty, even though i actually hit it with my club but because i wasn't making a stroke, i'm in the clear. But if i address a putt and i don't touch the ball and it moves, penalty. Doesn't seem right.
Kickntrue says:
Good news is they're reviewing this. Already got them to change some other rules. Social media is going to fix all the bad rules of golf... just give it some time.
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