The usual and unusual suspects

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Comebacker duties have once again been taken over by the Golf Guy, as Brian Hewitt has the week off ' tanning in Jamaica or saving dolphins in China or something.
Without further ado:
Raymond writes: I'm not sure which of you is the more pathetic loser. Her (Michelle Wie) for failing to understand the purpose of the scoring tent or you (Brian Hewitt) for pampering her and claiming the LPGA should have prevented the incident. True, the LPGA was wrong in not identifying the problem and should have DQd her prior to round three. But, all said and done let's put the fault squarely on the shoulders of the person responsible, Michelle! The scoring tent is not a stupid rule. The scoring tent is not old school. The scoring tent has a distinct purpose, that is, it is the first opportunity for the golfer to 'see and validate' their score. Period! You view your 'official score card,' make corrections if necessary, AND SIGN THE CARD!
The Comebacker
Heres the thing, Ray. Can I call you Ray? OK, then: making a player enter a scorers area to check and verify the numbers on his/her card is legit. Telling them that they are disqualified because they walked out of said area without penning their signature is D-U-M-B. How did them leaving and coming back affect anything? Its not like this is a test and a player can leave the area, get the proper answers and then come back and change their card. Golf is full of antiquated rules that need to be updated. This one falls in that category.


Jim writes: 1. I think that the American team will do a lot better than the pundits think in the Ryder Cup. 2. Why is Mike Weir not shown in the standings for the FedExCup? 3. A few years ago, during a Wednesday show at the Dublin course, (Padraig) Harrington was asked to give a demonstration by Jack (Nicklaus) as to his touch with the shorter clubs. He used a 7-iron to demonstrate the various shots he could use with the one club. He said that this was the first club he was given and he used it on the tees, fairways and bunkers. He hit it long, low, high, hooked and faded the ball. He said he missed the creative ways to play a course now that the emphasis was on distance. I agree with him and am fed up with the long drive and then a choice of four wedges into a rather large green. It was interesting to see how many of the regular PGA TOUR players handled the conditions at 'The Open' this year. The creativeness of the player came to the fore; surprise of surprises when Harrington won going away. 4. What has happened to Vijay Singh? He did not play for three weeks before 'The Open' and I assumed that he was getting ready in England. He never made the cut. The poor Canadian Open was last week. Singh, who has won it at the expense of Weir, was always a show. This year he failed to come, why? 5. I can solve Michelle Wie's problem. Someone should kidnap her father for at least ten years.
The Comebacker
1.) An American team filled with Hooters Tour players couldnt fare worse than the last collection of All Stars. 2.) Its because hes Canadian and FedEx doesnt deliver up there. No, actually hes 35th in the standings. 3.) If the tournaments really wanted to make their events more challenging all they have to do is raise the rough one inch. Make it a penalty to miss the fairway. Creativity and planning is instantly brought back into the game. 4.) Vijay is 45 years old and completely confused with his swing. Why wasnt he in Canada? He probably needed a break with the WGC event this week and the PGA next week. 5.) In his absence someone else would probably get in her ear and fill her head with bad advice.


Ken writes: Want to compliment you (Brian Hewitt) on the proper term for what I humbly submit is THE major of all majors ... I wish you would give a tutorial to the majority of your GC colleagues who insist on calling it the British Open. Case in point: watching Golf Central and listening to VC (Vince Cellini?) & BL (Who the hell is BL? Bruce Lee?) using the wrong term repeatedly in the broadcast. It is universally known as The Open except the vast majority of U.S. based writers & TV announcers. Please Brian, pass on your 'wisdom' to the others & give THE OPEN the respect it deserves!!!!
The Comebacker
We at GOLF CHANNEL are supposed to refer to the Open Championship as such. And so we do, for the most part. However I cant speak for Hewitt, but the U.S. Open is referred to the U.S. Open because it is played exclusively in the United States. When The Open is actually contested outside of the United Kingdom Ill consistently refer to it as something other than the British Open.


Roy writes: Look for Brandt Snedeker to contend (this) week at Bridgestone and ,yes, you heard it here the PGA. He is focused like his good friend Kenny Perry to win and make the Ryder Cup team. A few missed cuts have gotten his attention and time is short. By the way, Kenny is looking smarter and smarter to skip the Opens. Unlike many Tour pros, he knows what he can and cannot do at this stage in his career.
The Comebacker
Snedeker shot 2-under 68 in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone. Will he win the PGA? Golf Guy says no, but if he does we will give Roy major props in the subsequent Comebacker. As for Perry, count Golf Guy as among the group of people who feel Perry can play whenever and wherever he likes but theres no way Golf Guy would have ever skipped a major championship. Ever.

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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 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.


    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.”