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The new rule comes into effect on all major circuits this week

Change in the rules: the 15 minutes of grace are born

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Hinako Shibuno estudia su tarjeta durante un US Open.
Hinako Shibuno estudia su tarjeta durante un US Open. © USGA

Golf has introduced a new rule that comes into effect this very week and will prevent some of the cruellest stories that have been written in this sport. It has to do with the crucial moment of signing and delivering the scorecard.

There are not a few cases of golfers who have been eliminated for failing in this process. That is, presenting their card with the day’s results with a mistake in the numbers, for example where they should have put 5, there is a 4. Once the card was handed in, this meant immediate disqualification of the player. Now, the new rule allows a margin.

Specifically, what the new rule says is that once the card has been handed in and the results entered into the system, the player will have a 15-minute grace period to return to the delivery area, report that an error has occurred and correct it, thus avoiding disqualification. The only cases in which there is no turning back even if those 15 minutes have not passed is when it is the cut-off day and the start times for the next round have been made official, or when a tie-break has already begun.

Had this rule existed in 1968, Argentine Roberto de Vicenzo would have had the opportunity to win the Augusta Masters. His story is well known. He signed a card of 66 strokes when he had actually made 65 on the last day. He had made a birdie on the 17th and yet, on the card there was a 4. Having made a mistake against himself he was not disqualified, but he did have to keep the result. He finished second, one stroke behind Bob Goalby. With this new rule, he would have had the opportunity to go to the tie-break, as Tommy Aaron, his playing partner and marker that fateful Sunday, immediately realised the mistake, but the card was already signed.

So, the players’ signature on the card will not be completely official and irrevocable until 15 minutes have passed.

By the way, it will be applied in all circuits except in LIV Golf, as there is no physical card in the Saudi circuit, but everything is done electronically. At first it was in the traditional way, but there was such a mess in the collection of cards, when everyone finished at the same time, that they decided to change the system.