The USGA and R&A said Wednesday that stroke-and-distance for a lost ball or out of bounds was “topic No. 1 of meeting No. 1,” but even after five years of consideration, they haven’t reached a solution.
“We are committed to identifying a solution,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules. “When we hit 2019, there will be solution, even if it’s by a local rule, because we recognize the importance going forward.”
The stroke-and-distance rule creates a pace-of-play issue, with players having to go back to play from their previous spot.
One of the biggest hang-ups is differentiating the penalties for a lost ball and a shot that was hit out of bounds. Any option that requires an estimation of the spot where the ball was lost could lead to significant debate about players, and it’s not yet clear how many penalty strokes should be assessed, one or two. Meanwhile, the Rules maintain that out of bounds is a strategic part of the challenge of playing some holes and that it could be “undermined” if players can hit toward those areas with less concern, such as if they were marked with red stakes.
“We’ve looked at every angle,” Pagel said. “But of all the alternatives we’ve considered, we haven’t found one that is workable for all levels.”