The USGA and the R&A announced today the creation of a Local Rule to remove the penalty for a ball that is moved accidentally on the green by a player, caddie or fellow competitor.
This Local Rule may be put into force starting January 1, 2017.
Because the next major Rules revamp isn’t slated until 2018, the USGA and R&A created this policy as a Local Rule so a Committee may implement it for next season’s competitions. The rule change will be made permanent in 2018.
The Local Rule to be used until that time is not limited just to tournament competition either; normal everyday rounds can also be played under this Local Rule.
If a Committee wishes to introduce this Local Rule, the following wording is recommended:
Accidental Movement of a Ball on the Putting Green
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.”