High-tech rules reviews arrive on PGA Tour with new replay booth

production truck

While a physical brick-and-mortar booth is built at PGA Tour headquarters, rules officials will work out of a production truck like this one.

Getty Images

The PGA Tour is implementing a replay review room for the 2023 season to expedite and help players navigate rules scenarios that arise during the course of play.

Per a Golf Digest report, the Tour is experimenting with a video review system that will allow officials to review rules questions and offer rulings in real time — an expansion of the Tour’s video review capabilities.

This is the latest move to help modernize the Tour’s rules system, in which players often have to wait for the assistance of a roving official before continuing play. Some critics have called out rules reviews for taking too long and slowing down the Tour’s already sluggish pace of play, while other observers argue that the frenzied nature of on-course reviews has led to incorrect rulings.

Several U.S. sports leagues — including the NFL, NBA and NHL — have experimented with similar video replay measures in recent years, each presented as an effort to improve the expediency of rulings and the efficiency of competition. As video replay popularity has increased, so too has league investment. To date, the NFL, NBA and NHL each have “control centers” located in the New York City-area for the purposes of video review.

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According to the Golf Digest report, the PGA Tour will have a roving review center in 2023, with officials working out of a booth located in the production area at each tournament in addition to those patrolling around the course. Construction of a review center at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will be completed by 2025.

The Tour’s new replay system will most closely resemble the one enacted during this year’s NFL playoffs, in which a de facto “Sky Judge” assisted rules officials on the ground and expedited situations involving obvious calls. The Tour’s “Sky Judge” will have access to a “Hawkeye” system commonly used by TV replay operators to queue up any shot.

In previous years, rules officials working in conjunction with broadcast teams had some access to video footage, but were at the mercy of their location’s technological capabilities in offering video-assisted rulings. Under the new system, 28 events will have the same, uniform video review room where officials can access replays and offer rulings to players and officials on the course. Much as the NFL, NBA and NHL utilize video review as additive to full-time referees, the Tour will maintain its traditional roving review protocol in addition to the new video-assisted room.

The changes mark just the latest move by the Tour to streamline its entertainment product in the new year, which have in part been expedited by the threat of the Tour’s new Saudi-funded rivals, LIV Golf. Earlier this month, the Sports Business Journal reported that the Tour spent the offseason working in tandem with its broadcast partners to improve the consistency of its television coverage and remove interruptions.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.