The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 16

THE LAST WORD

Tours ruin armchair officials' day

T

he various professional tours and
the associated golf associations
have just taken all the fun out of
watching golf. The USGA and R&A
in conjunction with the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA, Ladies European
Tour and the PGA of America recently
announced that reports of rules violations by on-site spectators or television
viewers will no longer be grounds for
stroke penalties or disqualification. Beginning in 2018, the various Tours will
hire a replay official to monitor telecasts
of covered events and serve as the sole
arbiter of violations during play.
Darn it all, what a bunch of spoilsports! I've lived for years for the joy
of hunkering down in the old BarcaLounger in front of the TV, fully charged
cell phone handy with the numbers of
the Golf Channel, CBS, NBC and ABC
Sports and PGA Tour headquarters preprogrammed at the ready. Let one golfer
snap a twig on his or her practice swing
in the woods and I'm on it like the proverbial duck on a June bug.
"Hello Golf Channel, this is Chauncey in West Palm Beach and I'm afraid
I must report Mr. Spieth for breaking a
live twig on his practice swing after locating his golf ball in the woods on the
left side of hole number 14 today. As you
know, that is a violation, but it did not
appear that Mr. Spieth acknowledged his
error, so I thought I would let you know."
"Nice try, Chauncey, and thanks for
watching, but we no longer accept call-in
violations. I'm guessing there's not much
of it going on in sight of your BarcaLounger, but if you catch a glimpse of
any sexual harassment, your local news
station will be more than happy to take
your report." Click.
There have obviously been a number
of memorable gotcha reports phoned in
during televised golf tournaments over
the years. In my neck of the woods, although it wasn't me, honest, there was the
snitch who was watching the 1987 Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams

16 The Pellucid PersPecTive

Open at Torrey Pines on TV. He raced
to the phone after seeing Craig Stadler
place a towel on the ground near a (surprise) Torrey Pine so he could kneel to
take a swipe at his ball under the tree and
not soak his pants in the wet grass. Our
couch potato hero breathlessly panted to
the tournament official who answered the
phone that Stadler had violated rule 13-3
by "building a stance" with said towel. By
the time tournament officials reviewed
the tape and agreed that our caller was
technically correct, Stadler had completed his round and signed a scorecard that
did not include a penalty for building a
stance (and saving his pants) on number
14. As a result, he was disqualified, costing
him approximately $37,000. (That would
be about $137,000 for a similar finish on
today's Tour).
And, of course most recently, and
probably most critically, there was
LPGA wunderkind Lexi Thompson's
bushwhacking in last year's ANA Inspiration tournament. Playing superbly on
the tournament's next to last day and apparently on her way to a woman's major
victory, Thompson mismarked her ball
on the green and then played it from the
incorrect spot. (We're talking a matter of
an inch or two here, but a rule's a rule,
God and the USGA knows). When our
eagle-eyed viewer emailed the accusation
to tournament officials and they reviewed
the tape at length the next day, they finally notified Thompson with six holes to
play on Sunday that she'd been assessed
a 4-stroke penalty for the mismark and
the subsequent misplay the previous day.
Instead of cruising to victory with her
4-stroke lead, she incredulously found
herself tied, and, emotionally shattered,
eventually lost the tournament in a sudden death playoff. Needless to say, that
loud yahoo you may have heard the day
the new rules on call-ins were announced
was from young Lexi.
As always when golf 's powers that
be announce a ruling that might actually demonstrate some sense of fair play

and make the sport seem less punitive,
authors in their knickers and freshly
stuffed shirts are taking to various media sites to champion the sanctity of the
Rules of Golf. Rules are rules, by George,
and rules violations have consequences.
No matter if he or she meant to break
the rule, or had any idea they'd actually
committed a violation, and the violation
wasn't reported until after the player had
signed his or her card, tough divots.
There are certainly some points to be
made on both sides of the rules violation
call-in argument, including the sanctity
of the rules regardless of who witnessed
any violations of them. As some have
noted, the fact that television coverage is largely concentrated on players in
contention for the lead is unfair in that
violations by players farther back in the
pack will likely go undetected. Others
have (correctly) warned of the reaction
if some Tour plugger were to commit a
violation that the Tour's observer failed
to detect, and that player went on to win
and deny a Ricky Fowler, Jordan Speith
or, gasp, Tiger Woods the victory. As one
writer opined, the internet would melt if
that occurred.
Like instant replay in other sports
such as football, baseball and basketball,
the goal in golf is to get the ruling right,
regardless of whether that's accomplished in-house by a designated rules
observer or via a viewer's notification.
While I can see that concern, which one
author speculated could result in an asterisk chiseled into a major tournament
trophy if the winner's rule violation went
undetected, it just seems kind of sleazy
to me for someone hundreds or thousands of miles away to impact a tournament outcome by reporting a violation so
minuscule that it escaped both the player
who committed it and the announcers
and TV truck engineers who witnessed
the same television feed. "Human error"
is tolerated in other major sports, albeit
to a lessening degree, and they have survived. Why not golf?
-Jim Dunlap
December 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017

TOC
USGA slips bonds of reality with latest thinking on ball regulations
Course closures can be mythbusting
Storied desert club charts new course
November golf weather impact: Double-digit drop, year sags slightly
Atlanta golf market conditions far from peachy
Shark Experience unlikely to break golf ’s chains
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - TOC
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - USGA slips bonds of reality with latest thinking on ball regulations
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - Course closures can be mythbusting
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 6
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - Storied desert club charts new course
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 8
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 9
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - November golf weather impact: Double-digit drop, year sags slightly
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 11
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 12
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - Atlanta golf market conditions far from peachy
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 14
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - December 2017 - Shark Experience unlikely to break golf ’s chains
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