The R&A make new rule after DJ debacle

2016 12 Dustin Johnson2

• The R&A and USGA introduce new Local Rule

• Comes in the wake of Dustin Johnson US Open debacle

• There won't be a penalty when ball accidentally moves


The R&A and the USGA have announced a new Local Rule in the wake of the Dustin Johnson US Open debacle - eliminating the penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting green.

At Oakmont in June, the 31-year-old was penalised one stroke after being deemed to have caused the ball to move while lining up a putt on the fifth green (below). He wasn't told about the possibility of a penalty until he stood on the 12th tee box.

The handling of the situation triggered widespread outrage among the golfing community - with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth all voicing their disgust.

Read more -> Players slam USGA over handling of DJ ruling

U.S. Open - Final Round

But, thankfully for the USGA, Johnson held his nerve to win by three strokes from Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry and Scott Piercy.

The Local Rule will be available for any committee in charge of a competition to use starting January 1, 2017. It will be adopted by The R&A and the USGA in all of their championships, qualifying competitions and international matches.

"Both Rules Committees agreed that it needed to be changed" - David Rickman, The R&A

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

Read more -> McGinley: Ruling like DJ's can 'never happen again'

Dustin Johnson

"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.”

The Local Rule has been welcomed by all of the major Tours worldwide, and the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America and the Masters Tournament are among the golf organisations that will implement the Local Rule for all future events, beginning 1 January 2017.

The new rule

“Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1 are modified as follows:

When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment.

The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.

This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.

Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”

The R&A issues new rule on moving balls

What do you make of today's decision by The R&A to introduce a new ruling on moving balls on the putting surface? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below. For more information about the new Local Rule, please visit

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