A simple fix starting in 2019 to never again have the Lexi Thompson “she didn’t replace her ball exactly in the right spot” issue rear its ugly head: continuous putting.
Starting in 2019, one of the proposed rule changes is that a player can tap down spike marks and any other damage on a green. So if that rule is implemented, continuous putting should be in effect starting in 2019 as well.
A player should only be able to mark the ball after first hitting the green, to wipe away debris from the ball mark.
After that, marking the ball again only slows down play.
So by rule, require continuous putting. A player should step where ever necessary to hole out. Because the next player can tap down that spot before putting anyway.
Continuous putting by rule will not only speed up play, but it will prevent that asinine “I have to make sure I put the line on the ball pointing directly to my target before I can putt” nonsense.
(Truly, if the USGA is looking for another rule to implement that would greatly speed up play, ban ball manufacturer marks that are straight lines and ban player pen marks that create such a line. Require the logo printed on a ball to fit into a circle or square, and ban mechanical alignments printed on the ball itself. That new rule alone will save 20 minutes per round!)
STATING THE OBVIOUS: Tournament committees should no longer take fan call-ins or email rules snitching. Only players, caddies and rules officials should have the ability to raise a question, and only if they witnessed an issue directly. No “TV reviews” ever, either, as not all players in a field are on TV. Even the statements of spectators on-site should never be considered; spectators should have no voice on rulings whatsoever. And a question on a violation should only apply to that day’s round, before the card is signed. Once a card is signed by two players, the committee should never go back and question/penalize. It’s hard to believe such common sense policies need to be said…