Before 2017, when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance under a Rule, sometimes a player might end up playing from a wrong place based on a wrong estimate or measurement. Even if only by a small amount, players may incur a penalty. In 2017, Decision 34-3/10 accepted a player’s reasonable judgment in estimating or measuring spots, points, and lines.
In 2019, that Decision is essentially folded into the Rules under 1.3b(2). Whenever a player is required to estimate or measure a spot, point, line, area, or distance, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted if he or she did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make a prompt and accurate estimation or measurement. This means that a player’s reasonable judgment will be upheld even if later shown to be wrong by other information.
Gosh, that sounds “reasonable,” doesn’t it?! So why the change? The Rules generally rely on the integrity of the player, and this is a natural and appropriate extension of this trust in the player. And, it eliminates one more 21st Century problem… the perceived need to yell at the television when watching golf. By accepting a player’s reasonable judgment they can limit the “second-guessing” that can arise from the use of enhanced technology (such as video review when golf is televised, or a blimp shot that may or may not show Tiger Woods’ tee shot crossing the margin of the hazard well back of where he dropped at the Players Championship 😀).