17. Reasonable Judgment in Estimating and Measuring

Current Rule: When estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance under a Rule:

 

Ø  The player’s judgment in doing so is normally given no particular weight or deference; if the player ends up playing from a wrong place based on a wrong estimate or measurement, even if only by a small amount, the player will get a penalty. 

 

Ø  An exception is when a player uses his or her best judgment to estimate where a ball entered a water hazard, plays the ball and then learns that the judgment was wrong; in that case, there is no penalty if it was an honest judgment (Decision 26-1/17).  

 

Proposed Rule: Under new Rule 1.3a(2), whenever required to estimate or measure a spot, point, line, area or distance, the player’s reasonable judgment would be accepted if:

 

Ø  The player did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make a prompt and accurate estimation or measurement.

 

Ø  This means that the player’s reasonable judgment would be upheld even if later shown to be wrong by other information (such as video technology).

 

Reasons for Change

 

Ø  The Rules generally rely on the integrity of the player, and this is a natural and appropriate extension of this trust in the player.

 

Ø  There are many times when the Rules require a player to estimate or measure a spot, point, line, area or distance, such as when the player:

 

o   Uses a ball-marker to mark a ball’s spot, and then replace the ball, or

 

o   Estimates the spot where the previous stroke was made, when playing again under penalty of stroke and distance or when a stroke has been cancelled, or

 

o   Needs to find a reference point or reference line for taking relief (such as the nearest point of complete relief or the line from the hole through the spot of an unplayable ball), or to determine the extent of a relief area (such as measuring a fixed distance from a reference point or reference line).

 

Ø  Such judgments need to be made promptly, and players often cannot be precise in doing so. 

 

Ø  So long as the player did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances:

 

o   The player gets no penalty for any small inaccuracies, irrespective of any advantage gained.

 

o   There would be no penalty in certain situations where the player’s estimation was significantly wrong but there was effectively no way to have done a better job (as may happen when estimating where a ball entered a water hazard or where a ball was at rest before being moved by an outside influence).

 

Ø  Accepting a player’s reasonable judgment would limit “second-guessing” that can arise from the use of enhanced technology (such as video review when golf is televised). 

 

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