bThe Golf Channel Counts Down to Unprecedented Solheim Cup CoverageB
The Golf Channels comprehensive, week-long coverage of the 2005 Solheim Cup tees off Monday, Sept. 5, with a special Solheim Cup-version of Golf Central. The cable networks signature wraparound news coverage continues in the days leading up to the biennial match, carrying the pre-match press conferences live, as well as the competitions Opening Ceremony. The Golf Channels team of experts also will be on hand to provide instant analysis, breakdowns and predictions on Golf Central and Sprint Post Game.
The three days of match play will be covered live from the moment the first pair tees off until the last putt drops ' eight consecutive hours of live coverage on Friday and Saturday and seven hours on Sunday.
In addition to the networks dedicated match-play coverage, more than 40 programming hours in the week leading to the competition will be Solheim Cup-themed.
Leading The Golf Channels team of experts during tournament week will be Indiana native Brian Hammons and LPGA legend Dottie Pepper ' herself a veteran of six U.S. Solheim Cup teams. Supporting Hammons and Pepper in the booth, will be Donna Caponi, Kay Cockerill and Val Skinner on the golf course, and Rich Lerner providing essays and special reports.
The biennial contest pits the top European-born players from the Robe Di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET) against the top U.S.-born players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in a three-day, match-play-style competition. Just three LPGA Tour events remain before the final roster spots are determined, and 22 players are still within striking distance of capturing one of 10 coveted spots on the U.S. roster, with Cristie Kerr holding a comfortable lead, followed by Meg Mallon and LPGA legend Juli Inkster. Several roster spots are still up for grabs, and The Golf Channel will provide expert analysis of each event and its impact on the 2005 Solheim Cup.
Live match-play coverage of the 2005 Solheim Cup tees off Friday, Sept. 9, at 9 a.m. ET.
Quotes from the Broadcast Team:
Tournament Host Brian Hammons on returning home to Indiana to announce the 2005 Solheim Cup for The Golf Channel:
Even though I've been living in Orlando for 10 years, I still consider Indiana 'home'. So to return to my favorite town in the world and anchor our coverage of one of the biggest events in golf is truly a thrill and an honor. I'm looking forward to this event more than any other in my career at The Golf Channel.
The golf fans of Indiana are in for a real treat. Three days of unbelievable competition between some of the biggest names in women's golf. This will be the biggest event in women's athletics in 2005.
Hammons about the upcoming Solheim Cup:
The great thing about the United States team is that all of the players fighting for a position on the team are playing well. That has to make Nancy Lopez happy. One of the things a captain looks for are players who are 'hot' going into the Solheim Cup. She has a lot of 'hot' players.
The European team has a great mix of veterans and talented young players. Anytime you have Annika Sorenstam leading your team you have a shot.
I think Crooked Stick will provide some terrific theater. I can not believe the intensity of the Solheim Cup. I thought players were into the Ryder Cup, but the LPGA players have been talking about this event since the middle of last year.
Six-time U.S. Solheim Cup team member and The Golf Channel Analyst Dottie Pepper on her Solheim Cup playing experience:
The Solheim Cup was definitely one of the highlights of my career, especially since I was involved in the first playing back in 1990. It was always a huge goal; the opportunity to play as a team as well as represent your country was a determining factor in the schedule I set for two years in an effort to accumulate the necessary points.
Pepper on her first Solheim Cup broadcast experience for The Golf Channel:
The biggest challenge in this new capacity will be that of 'just calling golf' and not rooting outwardly for the U.S. team, many of those players being former teammates of mine. I am also looking forward to managing a 10 hour telecast with no breaks!
Pepper about the upcoming Solheim Cup:
I think the greatest thing about the potential team members is that nearly all of them are playing great golf now where as that was not the case two years ago going to the event staged in Sweden. Crooked Stick is a fabulous test, especially for match play, with water coming into play on several of the closing holes and huge swings in momentum being a huge possibility.
1996 Solheim Cup U.S. team member and The Golf Channel On-course Reporter Val Skinner on her Solheim Cup memories:
I consider my experience in the Solheim Cup one of the competitive highlights of my career.
The intensity of every match, hole and shot matches only the feelings experienced in a major
championship. To play along side the peers you respect and admire while representing your country creates total pride. I will always relish these moments in my golf career.
For more information contact, The Golf Channel Public Relations, 407/355-4653
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
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
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
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.
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
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.”