It is important that the ball moves on the putting green otherwise you could never hole-out. However, the Proposed Rule 13.1 suggests that even if you caused it to move – accidentally – then there is no penalty – just replace it.
The word “caused” in the rule as it currently reads has created the problem for the rules-makers in the interpretation of the rules in this instance and thus the need to make the rule less penal.
Once again, I believe the USGA and R&A are moving in the right direction in an effort to change the rules BUT I think the objective of any changes to the rules should be to Simplify not Modernize and what we have been inclined to do – in an effort to be more explicit –is to potentially further complicate the Rules.
The spirit of the game is unique in that it expects the golfer to call rules infractions upon themselves. This will happen, if the Rules are unambiguous, simple and the intent clearly conveyed.
The proposed change to eliminate the penalty for causing a ball to move – accidentally – on the green is a needless temptation for the golfer to abuse the intent of the rule.
I recall one instance, during the many equipment rules changes I co-authored, trying to avoid permitting adjustable clubs, if it was easy to make the adjustment during a round. My concern was that if it was easy to make a required adjustment during the round, that this would unfairly tempt golfers to do so, despite their conscience suggesting otherwise. Adjustability is now permitted only with a special tool – not normally carried by the golfer – reinforcing the intent of the rule.
The essence of the Ball Moving on the Putting Green rule change is:
Proposed Rule:Under new Rule 13.1:
There would no longer be a penalty if a player (or opponent) accidentally causes the player’s ball to move on the putting green.
I urge you to view the video on the USGA website of golfers — accidentally – causing the ball to move by clicking on this link.
There is no question that in each case the player physically moved the ball.
This proposed change, in my mind, is too liberal and invites abuse of the intent of the rule and thus introduces potential conflict, through the temptation to — after accidently moving it – place in a preferred position (the subject of much discussion recently.)
I do believe that this proposed change has been made with the best of intentions to not unfairly penalize the player. However, it opens a door of temptation, to those who tend to push the envelope of the interpretation of the rule to their advantage.
I think that this generous change is going too far, with the downside greater than the upside.
We should rely on the integrity of the golfer but in doing so, remove any ambiguity and/or temptation that may get in the way.
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