Golf officials change penalty rule for accidentally moving a ball

The rule caused major controversy during this year's US Open

Golf officials change penalty rule for accidentally moving a ball

Dustin Johnson watches a tee shot Image: ©INPHO/Getty Images

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has changed the rules regarding the accidental moving of a ball on the putting green during play.

The rule caused huge confusion during the final round of the 2016 US Open when Dustin Johnson was penalised one shot as he battled for the title.

The USGA, in association with the Royal and Ancient (R&A), have changed the rule now so as to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Speaking at the announcement of the change, Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status said: “Eliminating this penalty responds to the concerns we have heard from both golfers and committees about the difficulties in applying the current Rules when a player accidentally causes a ball to move on the putting green."

“This change is a good example of the type of Rules modernisation changes we hope to implement after completing our fundamental review of all of the Rules. We are looking for ways to improve the Rules by making them easier to understand and apply,” he added.

David Rickman, executive director - Governance at The R&A, said, “For the past several years, as part of The R&A and USGA’s Rules Modernization initiative, we have considered the penalty for a ball that is accidentally moved on the putting green."

"Both Rules Committees agreed that it needed to be changed and decided that in this particular case it was important to act now, through a Local Rule, rather than wait for the next overall set of revisions to the Rules of Golf," he added. 

The new rules will take effect from January 1st 2017.