Golf authorities have officially changed the rule which cost American golfer Dustin Johnson a one stroke penalty during his victory at the US Open earlier this year. The United States Golf Association (USGA) was criticized over the law which overshadowed the final days of play at Oakmont earlier this year.

Golf rule costs Dustin Johnson

Johnson was given a one stroke penalty during the final round of the Open after being judged to have moved his golf ball a fraction of an inch on the fifth green. The match official had originally pardoned Johnson over the incident, however, Johnson was informed seven holes later that he may be subject to a penalty after officials examined the video footage of the incident.

Johnson went on to finish four strokes clear of the chasing pack after meeting with USGA staff, cutting the 32-year old's lead down to three strokes.

Golf authorities criticized, and rule changed following Johnson's deduction

After the incident in which Johnson was penalized, the rule and the decision made at the US Open were both heavily criticized, leading to the USGA and fellow Golf officials, The Royal and Ancient, meeting to discuss the possibility of amending the rule. Now from the start of next year and onwards, tournament officials at all levels have the ability to disregard the penalty, if they feel that the moving of a ball on the putting green is accidental.

The executive director of governance at the Royal and Ancient, David Rickman, has admitted that the original rule wasn't "working as well as it looks on paper," and that it was something that they felt they needed to address.

Rickmond then went on to say that the incident with Johnson at Oakmont during the US Open was a "difficult time," but that it was a number of similar incidents and complaints that ultimately led to their decision.

The new rule which will begin at the start of January will only apply to the accidental movement of the ball by players, in which case the ball may be moved back to its original position.

The rule does not apply if the ball changes position due to weather or any other outside factor, in which case the ball must be played from its new position.

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