In an effort to limit the sometimes harsh results of television reviews from viewers calling in, new changes to the rules of golf have been made that will go into effect immediately. Golf's ruling bodies, the R&A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club) and the USGA (United States Golf Association), are the ones that made this decision. The Rule change comes almost a month after the outcry involving the role of a viewer e-mailing over a marked ball placement made by Lexi Thompson in the third round. The ruling was not made until the day after it occurred, which gave her a 4-stroke penalty and cost her a major win.

What exactly are these rule changes?

The rule has been changed so that video evidence of a rule violation that has been reported by a viewer will no longer mean that a golfer is automatically penalized.

Instead, golfers can now avoid a penalty if the violation is one that is deemed to not have been noticeable to the naked eye. The ruling bodies also agreed to eliminate penalties if they feel that a golfer made a sensible judgment in replacing a ball on the putting green or taking a drop.

The ruling bodies of golf also made it so that the circumstance surrounding a potential ruling will be discussed with the player in question and members of their playing group. The player can then be cleared of any wrongdoing if it is determined that they did everything they could to make a reasonably accurate determination in spotting their ball, dropping their ball, or being in the line of play.

In their statement announcing these changes, neither the R&A nor the USGA made reference to this being done in reaction to the Lexi Thompson ruling or any other specific indecent.

They said the decision was made to deal with the "many difficult issues arising from video review in televised golf."

Would it have affected notable past rulings?

It is clear that these new rules would have spared Anna Nordqvist at the 2016 U.S. Women's Open. Nordqvist was given a 2-stroke penalty for touching the sand with her club in a fairway bunker on the second playoff hole.

Neither she nor competitor Brittany Lang were informed until they were halfway through the third and final playoff hole.

This came a month after Dustin Johnson was given a 1-stroke penalty in the final round of the U.S. Open with seven holes to play. Johnson's penalty came when it was determined that he caused the ball to move when standing over his putt on the fifth hole.

However, Johnson went on to win the tournament. Like Johnson's situation, it is unclear if the new ruling would have cleared Lexi Thompson of the penalty she suffered that cost her the win.

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