Newsmaker of the Year: No. 9, Rules of Golf

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 6, 2017, 12:30 pm

It wouldn’t be a full list of Newsmakers without including the Rules of Golf, which once again became the focal point of several key tournaments and now, it seems, may be simplified in the near future.

The rule book took center stage at the ANA Inspiration, where a ball-marking gaffe of inches led to a critical four-shot penalty for Lexi Thompson. It became a hotly-debated topic, as a viewer call-in essentially determined the outcome of a major championship, and weeks later the USGA and R&A implemented a “reasonable judgment” standard to limit the power of video replay reviews.

That action came months after the governing bodies announced a plan to simplify the rule book beginning in 2019. The proposed changes would eliminate penalties for tapping down spike marks, removing loose impediments in a hazard or hitting the flagstick while on the green. The dozens of new changes also included limiting the time for a lost ball search and allowing players to crouch near ground level when dropping out of a hazard.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While the new changes received ample discussion, the rules in their current form still grabbed plenty of headlines over the summer. Jon Rahm was embroiled in not one but two rules controversies, first during his win at the Irish Open and again over moving a loose impediment at The Open. The PGA Tour curiously picked the Zurich Classic team event to hand out its first slow-play penalty in more than 20 years, while Bryson DeChambeau’s attempt to bring side-saddled putting back into style was hampered by the USGA.

But perhaps the biggest rules storyline gained traction near the end of the year, as a chorus of voices continued to call for the ever-advancing golf ball to be rolled back. Players from Tiger Woods to Dustin Johnson threw their support behind the notion of using a reduced-distance tournament ball for professionals, while USGA chief executive Mike Davis seemed open to just such a possibility when citing the increased costs associated with maintaining bigger and longer courses.

Whether 400-yard drives soon become a thing of the past or a shorter list of decisions leads to more enjoyable rounds, one thing remains clear: the impact of the Rules of Golf won’t be rolled back anytime soon.

USGA and R&A propose significant changes to simplify Rules of Golf

Article: USGA, R&A reveal proposed changes to Rules of Golf

Article: Full list of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf

Article: Reactions from Tiger, others on proposed rules changes

USGA: New rules easier to read and apply

Player reaction to new rules 'largely positive'


Lexi Thompson loses in ANA Inspiration playoff after controversial four-stroke penalty

Article: Replay rules under fire after controversial Lexi ruling

Article: Weeks later, Lexi ruling still a heated topic

Article: Lexi breaks down discussing ANA penalty

Thompson assessed four-stroke penalty a day later

Lexi breaks down in tears discussing ANA penalty


Jon Rahm embroiled in two rules controversies

Article: Rahm stands by ball mark mechanics after Irish Open controversy

Article: Rahm skirts another rules infraction at Open

Watch the Jon Rahm ball-placement controversy at Irish Open

Rules official McFee: Rahm was off by 'millimeters'


Debate rages over distance of golf ball, courses

Article: Tiger throws support behind rolling back the golf ball

Article: USGA's Davis calls impact of course expansion 'horrible'

Article: USGA's Davis considers 'variable distance golf ball'

Tiger, DJ in favor of limiting golf ball distance

Titleist CEO fires back at Davis over golf ball distance


Bryson DeChambeau spars with USGA over non-conforming putter

Article: One of DeChambeau's side-saddle putters deemed non-conforming

Article: DeChambeau blames USGA amid putting style switch

Article: DeChambeau tweets apology for USGA remarks


PGA Tour hands out first slow-play penalty in 22 years

Article: Zurich Classic team gets first slow-play penalty on Tour since 1995

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.