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A Revealing Decision

You knew it was coming. After the incident at the BMW Championship where Tiger Woods was penalized for a ball moving after he plucked away a nearby twig – an incident reviewed in hi-def slow-motion so many times that critics started comparing it to the Zapruder film – anyone with a passing knowledge of the USGA and R&A understood that a ruling on television replays would come sooner rather than later. Sooner turned out to be last Tuesday, when golf’s decision-making bodies put out a joint statement that read, in part: “In recent years, the rapid development of video technology, such as HDTV, digital recording and on-line visual media, has brought a new level of scrutiny to Rules issues arising in elite golf tournaments…. From January 1, 2014 … new Decision 18/4 will provide that, where enhanced technological evidence shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time. The Decision ensures that a player is not penalized under Rule 18-2 in circumstances where the fact that the ball had changed location could not reasonably have been seen without the use of enhanced technology.” In layman’s terms, if you couldn’t see it move while standing over it, then it didn’t move, even if hi-def closeups prove otherwise. The objective is simple: golf is not American Idol. There are no 800 numbers, and viewers at home are not supposed to vote for their favorites.


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