Notes Ladies in paradise The return of Jesper

By Doug FergusonJanuary 19, 2011, 3:02 am

HONOLULU – The PGA Tour starts its season in Hawaii with a winners-only field. The Champions Tour gets under way this week on the Big Island with a winners-only field, along with a few invitations.

The next move is to get the LPGA back in paradise.

Warren Haruki, who oversees the Kapalua Resort, said it would like to see the LPGA return with a “Tournament of Champions” format. He figures it would be a good fit with Hawaii’s sports theme of bringing only the best to the islands, from the Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu to the Ironman Championship on the Big Island.

The LPGA has a lawsuit against Kapalua that has not been resolved. It stems from a five-year contract the resort signed to stage a tournament, only to stop after one year when it couldn’t find a title sponsor.

“We’ve been fishing around for a replacement LPGA event,” said Mark Rolfing, now in charge of the PGA Tour’s season-opener in Kapalua and a central golf figure in Hawaii. “If we have an LPGA event, it’s needs to be a Tournament of Champions. We have to find a way to create it. And it’s not like the LPGA (schedule) is totally full.”

The LPGA starts its season in the Far East, and much later in the year than the other U.S. tours. It begins this year Feb. 17 in Thailand, then goes to Singapore. Rolfing can envision a scenario in which a Tournament of Champions is played the week after, on the way back to the mainland.

Even so, the sticking point would seem to be a title sponsor. That’s what led to the premature end of the LPGA event in Kapalua. Rolfing, however, is talking about branding the event so that it becomes more about Hawaii than one resort, or even one island.

“We need an event that moves around Hawaii,” he said. “Having somebody fund an event at one site is difficult. My thought is this could become Hawaii’s event.”

He suggested rotating an LPGA tournament around the islands – Kapalua one year, then perhaps Poipu Bay on Kauai, and Turtle Bay on Oahu, where the LPGA used to play before leaving SBS as a broadcast partner. Organizers have a long way to go, but Rolfing was optimistic about pulling it off.


JESPER’S BACK: A year ago, Jesper Parnevik wondered if a fractured vertebrae would keep him from playing golf again. A Swedish newspaper suggested he would be forced to retire.

Parnevik is pleasantly surprised with his progress.

He competed for the first time in nine months at Disney in the final tournament last year, and opened this year in contention through two rounds until he closed with 73-73 in the 36-hole final to tie for 54th.

So far, so good.

“My back felt as good as I can hope for,” Parnevik said. “According to the doctor, I’ve got about 50 percent functionality, and it’s improving. I’ve very pleased with that.”

Parnevik is happy to be playing golf, although he enjoyed being with his wife and four children.

“Being home that long was good and bad,” he said. “It was good to spend time with the family. The bad news is the bills are coming in, and I haven’t made a dime for two years.”


 

HAMILTON HALL: Herb Kohler has officially changed the name of the red brick building behind the 18th green at St. Andrews to “Hamilton Grand.” The next step is to convert the Victorian landmark into 26 luxury apartments.

Kohler Co. released its development plans Tuesday for what once was known as Hamilton Hall, a Victorian building that was featured in the film “Chariots of Fire.” It will offer 26 residences of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. It will include a penthouse that offers 360-degree views, and a restaurant that will be open to the public.

Kohler, who previously bought and is renovating the Old Course Hotel, held a two-day public consultation with St. Andrews citizens. The name is derived from its two previous uses – the Grand Hotel, which opened in 1895, and Hamilton Hall, a dorm at the University of St. Andrews named after its founder, Thomas Hamilton.

“Our goal is to restore Hamilton Grand and create a dwelling that will make the people of St. Andrews proud,” said Debbie Taylor, president of Kohler’s hospitality and real estate group.


 

BACK TO WORK: Padraig Harrington is not living if he’s not working.

According to the Irish Golf Desk, Harrington decided to change the move that gets his swing started, and that has led to wholesale changes for the three-time major champion.

Harrington said he has changed the grips on his club and has made his clubs a degree more flat. He has weakened his grip, lowered his hands slightly and pushed them forward. He now is over the ball when he starts his swing, instead of taking the club away from a moving position. He has less of a hip turn, but a bigger coil. That changed the plane in his back swing.

He also has changed his chin position at the top of his swing, to tuck in his head. He thinks that might be how he hurt his neck. And if that’s not enough, he wants his chest down through impact. Oh, and he has changed his putting routine.

The Irishman makes his 2011 debut in the Abu Dhabi Championship.

“I have never been more optimistic about my game, and I truly think the best years are ahead of me,” Harrington said. “I still feel like I am a young man and I am fitter and stronger than I have been at any stage of my life.”


 

DIVOTS: Jerry Tarde, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, has been selected for the 2011 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. He will be honored April 6 at the Golf Writers Association of America annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga. Tarde is the first editor of a publication to receive the award, which dates to 1991. … Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar were the only players to record top 10s in both Hawaii tournaments. … Davis Love III and Steve Stricker have shot all four rounds in the 60s at Waialae each of the last two years without winning.


 

STAT OF THE WEEK: The winners of the two PGA Tour events this year had a world ranking of No. 121 and No. 239.


 

FINAL WORD: “If you go overseas—go to China, Korea—they watch Golf Channel, and they like to watch what happens in the U.S. The U.S. tour is still the biggest tour, believe me. Whatever anyone says, that’s just the way it is.” — Ernie Els.

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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

Amen.

The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”