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R&A announce changes to Rules of Golf

Golfers behaving badly could be disqualified under an expanded section of etiquette in the latest edition of the Rules of Golf next year.

``I think there was a concern that standards have fallen,'' David Rickman, rules secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, said Thursday.

``We set out standards high, and we make no apology for that,'' he said. ``We simply want to ensure that this remains the case.''

The Rules of Golf is reviewed every four years by the R&A and the U.S. Golf Association. The next edition is effective Jan. 1.

Defining bad behavior is subject to interpretation.

Ginger Fahleson, manager of rules education for the USGA, said a breach likely would be someone who is intentionally disruptive and offensive, or a player who intentionally affects the play of his competitors.

``Typically, it would have to be a multiple offense before they get to the disqualification penalty,'' she said.

It would not necessarily apply to a player who slams his club out of frustration.

A paragraph on the ``spirit of the game'' has been added to Rule 33, which deals with etiquette.

``Unlike many sports golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire,'' it says. ``The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be.

``This is the spirit of the game of golf.''

Other penalties for violating etiquette guidelines allow for suspending players for a number of tournaments, and disqualification if the violation is deemed serious.

The etiquette section was part of the largest revision of the Rules of Golf in 20 years.

In other changes:

-- Club lengths now have a 48-inch limit (except for putters), while the maximum clubhead size for drivers will be 470cc.

-- Professionals wishing to be reinstated as amateurs will have to wait two years, instead of three years.

Rickman said there was nothing in the rules regarding the scorecard incident that led to Mark Roe of England being disqualified from the final round of the British Open, although changes were likely at next year's championship.

Roe shot 67 in the third round and would have been two shots out of the lead and playing in one of the final groups with Tiger Woods.

But Roe and Jesper Parnevik forgot to exchange cards, so Roe's 67 was written on Parnevik's card, and the Swede's 81 was placed on Roe's card.

Both were disqualified.

``The Open recording process is being reviewed, and there is every prospect it will be different next year,'' Rickman said.

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