Golf to technology: Shove it

In a landmark ruling for humanity, the powers behind golf decide they've had enough of viewers calling in to say a ball was moving when it appeared stationary to the naked eye.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
He'll be pleased. PGATour/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The people who run golf often seem like stuffy reactionaries trying to preserve ancient hegemony and its patrician ways.

Which, to a large extent, they are.

However, this can bring with it some welcome side effects.

One appears in a rule change that the game's rulers hope will keep technology a club-length away.

Golf, you see, has some stickly rules. One states that your ball can't move after you've addressed it or while you're removing loose debris around it.

However, viewers at home would use their DVRs and HDTVs to call into major tournaments and complain that a ball had moved. This was especially unfair to the more famous players, as they're more often on TV.

The PGA often also has many HD cameras covering the event.

These technologies might cause, as happened to Tiger Woods at this year's BMW Championship at Conway Farms near Chicago, a two-shot penalty to be assessed after his round has been completed.

In Woods' case, a PGA camera had caught his ball moving after he'd removed some loose stuff near it. (I have embedded the footage for your joy.)

In order not to endure such nonsense again, a change to the rules has been announced.

As USA Today reports, the new Rule 18.4 reads: "Where enhanced technological evidence shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time."

Yes, golf has waved its niblick and struck a shot for humanity.

This is an interesting contrast to sports like baseball, where pressure is being exerted to institute more instant replays because umpires get major decisions quite startlingly wrong.

Currently, the sight of all the umpires waddling from the field to stare at a TV screen is cumbersome. Some sports, like cricket, have successfully managed to use a remote video referee to adjudicate close calls.

But golf has always fancied itself bathing in integrity and a little humanity.

There is something uplifting about it asserting this humanity, just when technology keeps telling us that it always knows better.