Players told they had chance to make an input as rules row continues

Team USA's Justin Thomas: Social media exchanges.
Team USA's Justin Thomas: Social media exchanges.
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US PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has waded into the ongoing rift between players and the game’s governing bodies over golf’s new rules.

After more controversy at the Honda Classic, Monahan has written to players on the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour and Champions Tour, reminding them that they had their chance to affect the rules during the consultation process.

Monahan also defends the Tour’s rules officials as “the best in the game”, but also encouraged players to “use your voice constructively during this process”.

The R&A and USGA have already revised a rule which was only introduced in January after incidents on either side of the Atlantic, with players penalised two shots because their caddies were on a direct line behind the ball when they began to take their stance.

The incidents prompted Justin Thomas to become embroiled in an extraordinary exchange on social media with the USGA, whose PR account claimed Thomas had “cancelled every meeting we’ve planned with you” and pointed out that the PGA Tour had been involved with the planning of the changes for seven years.

Monahan wrote: “This is a collaborative process, one the PGA Tour has been part of from the beginning, along with all organisations in the world of golf. During this process, we put forward a lengthy list of recommendations to improve the rules in many ways, including the removal of numerous penalties, and virtually all our suggestions were incorporated.

“We also had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed rules prior to implementation, which resulted in modifications for the final version. The R&A and the USGA are our industry partners and we have pledged to work together through the introduction of these changes and provide feedback every step of the way.

“We have already achieved positive outcomes this year – most notably the clarification of the caddie-alignment rule – while we continue to focus on the remaining issues that are causing debate and discussion. None of this is unexpected.

“Our rules officials are the best in the game. We are committed to playing under these rules as we analyse their effectiveness throughout the entire season and it’s important to acknowledge that we are not at the finish line yet.”

USGA executive director Mike Davis claimed last month that “by and large” the rules have been “a huge success”, although R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers admitted “it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked.”