Last year at the U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson was assessed a one-stroke penalty for causing the ball to move on the front nine of his final round at Oakmont. Or that’s what the USGA said. Johnson maintains that he did not cause the ball to move by grounding his putter next to it. 

Either way, the rule is silly. This week, the USGA decided to do something about it. In its new proposed rules changes, “the player will be determined to be the cause only when it is known or virtually known to be the case.” 

In other words, you only get a penalty essentially when you intentionally move your ball or it is so obvious that anyone can see it. This is wise. I think we can also call it the “D.J. Rule.”

Johnson was asked about the rule change this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

“I mean, obviously some of the rule changes I think are really good,” Johnson said. “Especially the ball on the putting green when you don’t feel like you caused it to move and you’re still getting a penalty, that to me makes no sense. So I think some of the rule changes are good. Obviously they’re trying to simplify the rules a little bit just so there’s not so much confusion.

“Some of them are complicated. I’ve been on Tour for 10 years now and I still have to call a rules official over sometimes when I’m taking relief from something just because some of them are complicated, yes.”

Johnson also noted that it was nice that your ball rolling backwards is no longer a penalty, even though he never thought he deserved one at Oakmont last year to begin with.

“The rule now is, or even then, the rule is if you didn’t cause it to move, it’s not a penalty,” said Johnson. “I don’t understand it, I still don’t. I know now, though, that I wouldn’t get a penalty if my ball rolls over a putt, so that’s nice. But other than that, I’ve got no idea exactly what they were thinking.”