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The Social: Make Tiger great again?

By Jason CrookOctober 10, 2017, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is back hitting full iron shots for his social media followers, Donald Trump is somehow getting even better at golf and Lexi Thompson looks like she's preparing for a role in the sequel to "Top Gun."

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Plenty of things have “broken the internet” over the last few years. Kim Kardashian’s anything, that white and gold blue and black dress and, oh yeah, just about anything Tiger Woods related.

Well, folks, this weekend Woods went and did it again, posting a slow-motion video of himself on social media hitting “Smooth iron shots.”

Smooth iron shots

A post shared by Tiger Woods (@tigerwoods) on

And while we can confirm the internet is, in fact, not broken, it was at least mildly sprained for a while on Saturday as Tiger fans geeked out over the 14-time major champ's latest step on his journey back toward competitive golf.

It's anyone's guess when Woods tees it up in a professional event next as he has played only seven competitive rounds in the last two years because of multiple back surgeries. But when he does, don't be surprised if the internet goes out ... maybe, for good.

Agree or disagree on his political positions, President Donald Trump has a lot on his plate.

Anthem protests, natural disaster relief, international relations and foreign policy, border security ... just to name a few.

And even with all that, somehow the man is keeping his golf game intact. In fact, according to his Monday playing partner, he may even be getting better.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, tweeted that Trump carded a 1-over 73 in windy and wet conditions on Columbus Day at Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia.

Imagine how good the president could be with a little practice. Perhaps when he's done being in charge of the country he'll really buckle down and go after that PGA Tour card. Hey, crazier things have happened.

For the most part, Phil Mickelson stays away from social media. For crying out loud, the man took (and nearly cropped himself out of) his first selfie just a couple of weeks ago at the Presidents Cup.

But leave it up to Phil to be the talk of Twitter without ever hitting “send.”

Mickelson’s tie for third at the season-opening Safeway Open was his best finish in more than a year, but it was his sense of self-deprecating humor that stole the show on Sunday. After finding the 16th fairway – only his 15th tee ball to find the short grass all week – he turned to the crowd and delivered this terrific zinger:

He's a joke maker. Tell 'em Phil.

Sound: On.

Found our first drunk announcer of the day

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Usually, 81-year-old Gary Player is busy reminding us that he’s not exactly longing for the old days, proving that age is just a number seemly on a daily basis. It was just last week he was breaking it down on the dance floor at one of his charity events.

But over the weekend, the nine-time major winner took to social media after Ross Fisher’s record breaking 11-under 61 at the Old Course at St. Andrews to say he was “sad” to see the course was no longer much of a match for today’s technology.

This, of course, isn’t exactly a new take, as plenty of older and younger players have called for some sort of scaling back of the clubs and/or balls for years now.

But it was Player's follow-up tweet in which he called himself an "old poop" that should've gotten more attention than the original, only because someone calling themselves "old poop" will never not be funny.

Gary, you may be an old poop, but you're our old poop. Never change.

Fact: Everybody loved Tom Petty.

We really shouldn't need any more proof of this besides the legendary musician's hits standing the test of time, but we got it in the wake of the Rock in Roll Hall of Famer's sudden death.

Not only did basically his entire hometown of Gainesville, Fla., honor him with their rendition of "I Won't Back Down" during the Florida Gators football game on Saturday, but golf's own larger-than-life figure, John Daly, also gave it his best shot at on Thursday at the Safeway Open.

Considering how well the tribute went, Daly might want to think about permanently adding this to his set list, which currently includes "Knocking on Heaven's Door," and only "Knocking on Heaven's Door."

According to her social media accounts, Lexi Thompson really like working out and playing golf. But a third hobby has emerged lately, and with all due respect to both working out and golf, it looks a tad bit more exciting.

The third-ranked women in the world posted a video to her Instagram on Monday from inside a jet, doing all sorts of flips and tricks with The Flying Bulls over the friendly skies of Austria, as part of her partnership with Red Bull.

So it appears the sky is literally the limit for Lexi, both on and off the course.

Add this to the list questions that keep you up at night - Why did Jim Hi switch from an Infiniti to a Lexus? Some things we'll just never know.

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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.”