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Decisions on the Rules of Golf

R&A announce 111 changes to Rules of Golf

One of the harshest penalties in a sport known for its etiquette and countless regulations will be consigned to history from the start of next year, golf's governing body said on Tuesday.

From January 1 2006, tournament committees will be allowed to accept as an "administrative error" incidents where the correct score has been entered on the wrong card, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) said in a statement.

"In the future, committees will be allowed to correct such an error without penalty," the R&A said.

"Revised decision 6-6d/4 gives a committee the power to strike the wrong name from an otherwise correctly completed score card without limit of time."

Under this new interpretation of the rule, an incident such as the Mark Roe scorecard mix-up at the 2003 British Open would never happen.

Briton Roe and his Swedish playing partner Jesper Parnevik were disqualified from that year's championship when the players signed for the wrong scores after failing to exchange cards at the start of Saturday's third round.

Roe's scorecard blunder cost the Englishman a tie for third place going into the final day at Royal St George's after he had charged into contention with a joint best-of-the-week 67.

"I think it (the R&A decision) is a great move. I am really pleased that something good has come from my mistake," Roe told reporters at the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

"The opportunity I had at Sandwich would have changed my life if I'd played well enough. It was an unfortunate thing but you abide by the rules."

Following that incident, the R&A changed its recording system for the 2004 British Open but made clear the responsibility for checking scorecards would remain with the players.

Among several other changes announced by the R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) on Tuesday, distance measuring devices will be permitted from the start of next year.

Tournament committees will be allowed to sanction the use of devices like GPS based systems and laser rangefinders under local rule. Such devices are widely used by leading players in practice rounds.

"This applies to devices that measure distance only, not any other conditions that might affect a player's game such as wind or gradient," said the R&A.

Tuesday's changes are among 111 amendments made by the R&A and USGA to the book Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Published every two years, the new edition becomes effective for all golfers from January 1, 2006.

The R&A is the game's worldwide governing body and works closely with the USGA, which administers golf in Mexico and the United States.


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