Dump Trump

By Mercer BaggsNovember 1, 2009, 8:00 pm

Michael Whan

THE COMMISH: The LPGA announced late Tuesday that Michael Whan would be its next commissioner. Whan, a former executive vice president of TaylorMade Adidas Golf North America, will take over for acting commissioner Marty Evans in January.
Backspin We haven't seen someone come out of nowhere like this since Rosie Ruiz in the 1980 Boston Marathon. Considering we knew as much about Mr. Whan as we did Egyptian hieroglyphics prior to his press conference, we'll have to assume the LPGA hired the best candidate. Considering what the tour has been through this past year, we definitely give them the benefit of the doubt that they've found the right person to right the ship.

Donald Trump, Jr.

POSER: Construction began last week on Donald Trump's Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The 14,000-acre site will host two courses, a clubhouse, a hotel, nearly 1,000 holiday homes and roughly 500 houses. Trump's son, Donald, Jr., was on site Tuesday for the ground-breaking [and photo-ops].
BackspinAccording to Scottish newspapers, five residents still live on the estate and refuse to be bought out by Trump. A 'Tripping Up Trump' campaign has also been established to try and prevent the billionaire from evicting them. Trump has faced a lot of opposition over the last three years in his drive to build, in his boastful words, 'the greatest golf course in the world.' Amazingly, he just can't comprehend that some people don't care about money – they just want to live on and enjoy God's beautiful land.

Ross Fisher

FISHER KING: Ross Fisher of England defeated American Anthony Kim, 4 and 3, in the 36-hole final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Fisher earned $1.1 million and moved to third on the European Tour's Order of Merit. After a year off, the event was contested in Spain. It had been held in Wentworth, England since 1964.
Backspin That wasn't the only change. A round-robin format was used with 16 players comprising four pools, where one winner emerged from each based on points earned and margin of victory. It's much like what they do in soccer. Except not as knife-in-the-back agonizing to watch.

Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby

SO WE MEET AGAIN: Three weeks after their Presidents Cup singles match, Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby squared off in the semifinals of the Volvo World Match Play. Kim, who defeated Allenby in their previous encounter, was victorious again, disposing of the Australian, 5 and 4. Allenby created headlines after their initial meeting when he was critical of Kim's nightlife and called the 24-year-old the 'current John Daly.'
Backspin The only thing that would have made this match better would have been if Kim came to the first tee dressed and staggering like Otis Campbell. Both players issued statements in the aftermath of Allenby's Presidents Cup comments, but you knew a politician's apology had more sincerity. Kim refused to give Allenby any gimmes this time around, making him putt out from a foot. The way Kim treated Allenby and the way Kim beat Allenby – maybe he's got a little Tiger Woods in him afterall.

Viking Classic

DON'T VIKINGS LIKE WATER?: PGA Tour officials were forced to cancel the Viking Classic due to incessant rain and unplayable course conditions. It was the first time the Tour canceled an event outright since the 1996 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. No make-up date was scheduled, leaving next week's Children's Miracle Network Classic as the final official event of of the 2009 Tour season.
Backspin David Duval enters the finale in 125th place, less than $11,000 ahead of Chris Riley. Other notables needing a big week at Disney: Rich Beem [No. 124], Chris DiMarco [138] – actually, pretty much everyone in the field.

Ian Poulter

POUL POSITION: Ian Poulter ended a three-year winless drought by capturing the Singapore Open, an event co-sanctioned by the Asian and European tours. Poulter won wire-to-wire, though he nearly blew the tournament by shooting 1-over 72 in the final round.
Backspin Poulter, 33, is now 15th on the Official World Golf Ranking, nearing his goal of breaking into the top 10 by year's end. There is substance to go along with the style, but is there enough to ever win a major? Is there even enough to ever win on the PGA Tour? If either is going to happen, you'd think it would come in the next couple of years.

Na-Yeon Choi

NA, NA, NA, NA: Na-Yeon Choi won Hana Bank Kolon Championship in her native South Korea. She birdied the 18th hole for a one-shot triumph over Yani Tseng and Maria Hjorth. Choi, who also captured the Samsung World Championship, is just the third player with multiple wins on tour this year.
Backspin Choi's two victories have come in her last three starts, but because of the LPGA's scattered schedule, the first came in September and the latter in November. The next three weeks will wrap up the '09 season, as the ladies travel to Japan, Mexico and Texas. Ji Yai Shin still leads the money list and tops the Player of the Year standings.

John Cook and Loren Roberts

TROPHY ENVY: John Cook concluded the 2009 Champions Tour season with an easy victory at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Cook shot four sub-70 rounds, including a 10-under 62 Friday, en route to a five-stroke win. Loren Roberts, meanwhile, shot 66 Sunday to secure his second Charles Schwab Cup points title in three seasons.
Backspin Cook got $440,000 for his victory, while Roberts earned another $1 million annuity. Bernhard Langer, however, topped the money list with over $2.1 million. Who gets Player of the Year? That would have to be Roberts, who is the only one among the three to have won a major [Senior British].

Chang-won Han

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Chang-won Han captured the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship. ... Adam Scott tied for third at the Singapore Open, while Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els tied for 14th. ... Joey Sindelar withdrew from the Charles Schwab Cup Championship after complaining of shorteness of breath and diziness after playing the fourth hole Saturday. ... Tom Lehman's father, Jim Lehman, Sr., died Wednesday after complications during lung surgery. He was 75.
Backspin Han earned a spot in the 2010 Masters Tournament and a quick pass to the final stage of International Qualifying for next year's Open Championship. ... That's Scott's best finish anywhere since the Sony Open in January. ... Sindelar was taken to a nearby hospital and remained there Sunday after being diagnosed with a pulmonary emoblism. ... Our prayers are with the Lehman family.
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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.


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.”