He Said/She Said: Sin City? Let's roll the dice

By Golf GuySeptember 30, 2011, 3:19 am

While The Golf Guy and 'Birdie' Bailey Mosier can argue opposing sides of most topics, on Las Vegas they simply must agree – the Entertainment Capital of the World has it all. In this edition of He Said/She Said, they share their perfect Vegas weekend in light of this week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

By The Golf Guy

I’m going to Vegas to spend the week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open? And I need to have a game plan? Well, let me count the ways ...

First off, let it be known that I love Vegas. Yet at the same time let it be known that I hate Vegas. Actually, the hatred is more like I’m scared of Vegas. A city that has based its reputation on the slogan, 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,' doesn’t seem to realize that anything strange or very unusual that happens there will unfortunately stay in your own mind. So that slogan just isn’t that comforting.

That said, going to Vegas for a golf tournament can actually help anyone keep the stupidity level to a minimum. Why? Because golf is a 'gentleman’s game,' one that offers up the 'golf clap,' and a sport that requires people to call penalties on themselves. Possible case in point: “Man, you are one hot babe, would you like to come back to my room and do some night putting?” Right then and there, you realize you are a golfer and quickly call a two-stroke penalty on yourself and let the lady play through and not bother her anymore.

As for a Sin City itinerary the week of the JT SHO, this is The Golf Guy’s fool-proof plan:

• Play some golf at Bali Hai. The location and convenience is hard to beat – right on the strip. It’s a beautiful course, and if you can handle airplane noise – and unfortunately there is a lot of it – you will save yourself plenty of time in having to drive to many of the courses far from the strip.

• This is a must: the Bellagio water show. That might sound strange coming from The Golf Guy, but hearing Andrea Bocelli sing 'Time to say goodbye' to the amazing water show warms my heart. Much like standing on a tee box during a late afternoon round with good friends, with the sun going down and the shadows stretching over the fairway.

• Wanna see a Vegas show? Well, do me a favor and skip all the foolishness and just go to a comedy show. There’s always a big-name comic in town and it’s always worth the salty price of admission. There are options as well. My favorite when it comes to affordability? George Wallace at the Flamingo. He’s freaking hilarious.

• Spend at least a few hours playing the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. I used to think slot machines were for water show-watching sissies, but this slot machine is highly addictive. Let’s just say, when you finally win a free spin of the wheel, and you hear ‘Wheel … of … Fortune,” blaring out the speakers, you can’t help but get completely giddy.

• I know most of you are waiting for me to suggest going to a gentleman’s club. My friends tell me it can be fun. But I wouldn’t know. OK, I’m lying. It is fun. And weird. Well, kinda like Vegas as a whole.

• Oh, last thing: Go to the actual Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Like the title sponsor suggests, the least you can do is drag your hungover self out to the course and help support a wonderful cause. And it's a perfect 'killing two birds with one stone' situation: You help a worthy charity and you can start getting your base on for the ensuing wild evening.

By 'Birdie' Bailey Mosier

You can’t go wrong with Vegas. Take it from the girl who grew up there – yours truly – it really does have all the glam, glitz and appeal you think it does.

I often get asked the question, “What was it like growing up in Vegas?” to which I respond the same way every time: “It’s just as much fun as you imagine it to be.”

Vegas has it all. Warm weather, great golf and good-looking cart girls. Food, flair and nightlife. Shows, casinos and shopping. Anything you want at any hour of the day.

Whether you live there or you’re lucky enough to be visiting this week for the PGA Tour stop – the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open – you’re guaranteed to leave happy even if you leave empty-handed.

So what would 'Birdie' do if she were there this weekend to take in the fun and the sun? Let me share some local knowledge on all the best Las Vegas has to offer.

Golf: I would certainly head out to TPC Summerlin to catch some of the PGA Tour action. Walk the course and get some exercise, or find some shade and pop open a beer as you watch the world’s finest go low at the TPC. If you can sneak in a round or two of your own, my recommendations are Rio Secco – a Rees Jones design – and any one of the three courses at the Paiute Indian Reservation located northwest of the strip. I've grazed many fairways of the 100-plus golf courses in Vegas, and Rio Secco and Paiute top my list every time.

Eats: The best steak I’ve ever had was at the SW Steakhouse inside the Wynn. Pricey, by some standards, but you’re in Vegas for Pete’s sake. Splurge. Trust me, this is one meal you won’t regret.

Drinks: They don’t call it the 'coolest' bar on the strip by accident. The Minus 5 bar located inside the Mandalay Bay is one of my favorite spots. You enter what is essentially a giant freezer where the temperature is kept at minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) and are given coats and mittens to help withstand the chill. It’s a fun change of pace to your otherwise typical loud, crazy bar scene and it’s worth trying at least once.

Shopping: Yes, I had to throw this one in for all the ladies and, whether you know it or not, for all you men out there, too. The Fashion Show Mall off of Las Vegas Blvd. and Spring Mountain has every store you could possibly dream up. From designer labels to feel-good brands, this mall will keep the ladies occupied for hours and will give the men some time to themselves. Which brings me to …

Gambling: Another question I get asked all the time is whether or not people who live in Vegas gamble all the time. The answer is no. Not all the time. We have jobs and other hobbies, too. But when the occasion calls for gambling, the must-play game for me is craps. I love the energy and excitement of getting an entire table full of people involved. It’s true you can lose big and lose quickly at the craps table, but when it’s hot, there’s no greater gamble.

I could go on and on about all the gems Las Vegas holds, but instead I may go pack my suitcase and head to the City of Sin. It’s been far too long since this West Coast girl painted that town red. 

Getty Images

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.”