New Rule Eliminates Penalty on Accidental Movement

January 2017 will bring with it a new rule that players will not be penalized for the accidental movement of a ball on the green.

While the powers that be say it is not a direct result of last year’s US Open, it certainly didn’t hurt.

Last summer, American Dustin Johnson was ruled to have caused his ball to move slightly on the putting green. He was informed after the 12th hole that he might be given a one-shot penalty, a move that was derided almost unanimously by players, fans, and media members alike.

Even awarded with the one-stroke penalty, Johnson won the event by three strokes, but was fairly livid with the way things might have unspooled.

“This has been talked about for quite some time,” USGA Senior Rules Director Thomas Pagel said.

“The Dustin Johnson ruling was the last of many uncomfortable rulings we’ve had with balls or ball markers that moved on a putting green. We had identified a solution and language as the broader rules modernization. This motivated us to say it’s in the best interest of the game as opposed to waiting for the next set of revisions.”

“I think it’s a really good thing for golf,” Johnson, the world’s No. 2 ranked player,  said in a text message.

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