Not wanting the serene Masters viewing experience to be tainted by anything as grubby and acrimonious as a rules controversy, this week will witness the first test of the long-awaited R&A/USGA compromise rule regarding the signing of incorrect scorecards.
Designed to “apply in limited circumstances not previously contemplated by the Rules of Golf where disqualifications have been caused by scorecard errors identified as the result of recent advances in video technologies,” the changes safeguard players incapable of accurately applying the rules from post-round disqualification.
Rather than imposing post-round disqualification, then, the amendment would see a player assessed a stroke penalty commensurate with their original, less serious offence. In short, the alteration would prevent a repeat of Padraig Harrington’s disqualification from this year’s Abu Dhabi Championship.
“This revision to Decision 33-7/4.5 addresses the situation where a player is not aware he has breached a Rule because of facts that he did not know and could not reasonably have discovered prior to returning his scorecard. Under this revised decision and at the discretion of the Committee, the player still receives the penalty associated with the breach of the underlying Rule, but is not disqualified.”
A player whose original infraction was due to ignorance of the rules (eg. Camilo Villegas in Kapalua) would still, correctly, feel the full weight of the original, unamended rule.