USGA Announces More Than 100 Rule Changes

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USGAThe rule that got Mark Roe disqualified from the British Open two years ago when he forgot to swap scorecards with Jesper Parnevik has been revised to allow officials to correct the mistake without penalty.
 
That was among the 111 amendments to the 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf,' which take effect Jan. 1.
 
Other changes allow for measuring devices, such as GPS systems or rangefinders, to be used at the discretion of tournament organizers. The Tight Lies Tour began using a GPS system this year for players who can't afford caddies, hoping it would speed play.
 
The PGA and European tours, among other top circuits, allow caddies or players to use rangefinders only during practice rounds.
 
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club also agreed to add a decision that would allow players to stand square to the hole if their intent is to stay out of another player's line. That got Brian Davis of England disqualified from a European tour event, and Tiger Woods was investigated - and cleared - when it appeared he did that on the 14th hole of the first round at this year's Masters.
 
For Roe, the scorecard revision comes two years too late.
 
He shot 67 in the third round at Royal St. George's that left him in a tie for fourth with Woods, two shots out of the lead. He played with Parnevik that day, but they forgot to swap scorecards on the first tee.
 
When the round was over, Parnevik's score (81) was posted on Roe's card while Roe's 67 was under Parnevik's name. Under strict interpretation of the rules, they were disqualified.
 
'I think it's a great move,' Roe said Tuesday. 'I'm really, really pleased that something good has come from my mistake, really. I'd like to think that the way I handled it at the time, and what I went through, was probably a small factor in their decision to look at it.'
 
Under the revised decision, such an 'administrative error' can be fixed without penalty as local officials will be allowed to strike the wrong name from an otherwise correct card and add the right name.
 
Roe would have played with Woods in the final round, which 'would have been the greatest day in my career.' He said he watched TV coverage of the final round, won by rookie Ben Curtis, and when it was time to award the silver claret jug, went upstairs and cried.
 
'The emotion came after, perhaps even more so with a relatively unknown who won it, and the way it was won, made me think that could have been me,' he said.
 
The 'Decisions of the Rules of Golf,' which contain more than 1,200 incidents, is published every two years. The Rules of Golf is amended every four years.
 
Roe realizes he will forever be linked to a scorecard mistake, and often plays in pro-ams where someone will say, 'Don't give Roe the card.'
 
'It may happen again,' he said. 'But obviously now, no one will be punished.'