One of pro golf’s most controversial terms of competition was just changed

Jordan Spieth reads a putt during the 2024 Genesis Invitational.

Jordan Spieth reads a putt during the 2024 Genesis Invitational.

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One of golf’s most controversial and punitive terms of competition was just changed — and professional golfers are likely to endorse it.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players on Tuesday, an amendment was made regarding the rules — or, more technically, terms of competition — surrounding “When a Scorecard is Returned.” Effective immediately, players will now have a 15-minute buffer to correct an error on a scorecard even if they have already left the scoring area.

The news was first reported by Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson on Sunday, although Tuesday’s note from the Tour provided further details.

According to the memo:

— If a scorecard is validated in the scoring system and the player has left the scoring area, he may return to correct an error within 15 minutes of its validation.

— If a player has left the scoring area and an error is identified before the scorecard is validated in the scoring system, he may return to correct the error within 15 minutes of the error being identified by the scoring official.

— If a player is in the scoring area when the 15 minutes expires, his scorecard is returned when he leaves the scoring area.

The PGA Tour clarified to that players who sign incorrect scorecards would be notified by the Tour. At that point they’d have 15 minutes to return and resolve the issue without penalty or disqualification. The Tour added in the memo that there may be exceptions, however, “when constraints within the competition limit a player’s correction time to less than 15 minutes, such as releasing tee times following the cut, starting a playoff, or the close of the competition.”

The scorecard penalty or disqualification has long been a source of controversy. Its most famous example came at the 1968 Masters, when the late Roberto De Vicenzo thought he was about to face Bob Goalby in a Monday playoff. But playing partner Tommy Aaron incorrectly gave De Vicenzo a 4 instead of a 3 on the 17th hole in Sunday’s final round, De Vicenzo failed to catch it and signed the scorecard. Per USGA rules, he had to take the higher score on his card (the 4), meaning he missed out on the playoff. Goalby won the Masters by a stroke.

According to the USGA’s current rules, if a score returned was higher than the actual score for the hole, the higher score stands. If a score was incorrectly marked as lower than the actual score, the player is disqualified.

More recently, this rule came into effect at the 2024 Genesis Invitational in February. Jordan Spieth was disqualified on Friday afternoon following his second round. Spieth, who we later found out was not feeling well, shot a two-over 73 but signed for a 3 on the 4th hole when he actually made a 4.

“Today, I signed for an incorrect scorecard and stepped out of the scoring area, after thinking I went through all procedures to make sure it was correct,” Spieth wrote on X that night. “Rules are rules, and I take full responsibility.”

The next day, his playing partner for the first two rounds, Xander Schauffele, defended Spieth’s DQ and even suggested a “softening” of the rule. Other pros also chimed in voicing their displeasure with the rule.

“He was really sick and he had a rough last hole and I can see how it all went down,” Schauffele said. “I heard he had to go to the restroom and came back like a minute later and the card was wrong. Maybe there needs to be some sort of softening on the rules, but for the most part we all kind of know what goes on in there. It’s really unfortunate it happened.”

The new term will go into effect on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Americas and DP World Tour.

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at

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