Somethings Missing Heres a Cure

By Kraig KannAugust 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
No Tiger, Phil, Vijay or Ernie in Cromwell, Conn., this week. Make it six straight years now that Annika Sorenstam hasnt teed it up in Betsy Kings Wachovia LPGA Classic.
 
I hate to say it, but this week just hasnt felt right. Normally, I dont look for the negative in a weeks golf schedule. But its been tough to get excited this week.
 
All signs pointed to the seasons final major championship ' the JELD-WEN Tradition, but Day 1 play on Thursday was a day for the Ducks and the Beavers in Oregon, not the golfers. Too much rain falling to keep my spirits high.
 
Speaking of Ducks and Beavers, this is the time of year when football begins to dominate the national media. Cmon, tell me youre not going to tune in for USC vs. Virginia Tech!? Truth is that Fall is when excitement for golf falls off. The tours top players fall off as well. We wont see much of Woods, Mickelson, Els, maybe even Vijay.
 
Heres what our favorite sport needs: We need a new hero. We need a player to step up on the PGA Tour and get on a victory run. And why not a man whos ready to bust? Or how about a lady whos been off of our radar screen of late?
 
Here are some PGA Tour possibilities:
 
  • Charles Howell: Too much talent to be without a win this year, or last year. Just one win for Howell on the tour. We know hes got the ability. Being 34th on the money list isnt anything to complain about, but hed be a perfect story for the rest of the year.
  • Zach Johnson: Hes 29th in money. Like Howell, you can bet hell factor into many Ryder Cup conversations in years to come. Zach already has a win this year and a ticket to Kapalua. Might as well head to the Tour Championship with some real appeal.
  • Jonathan Byrd: A winner this year at the BC Open, Byrd has two career wins and has the ability to add 10 more before hes done. Great golf swing, great attitude. Throw in Chad Campbell and you might just have the four most talented American youngsters.
  • Hank Kuehne: Hes dangling at 109th on the money list. But his run in Hartford this week shows just how much ability he has. Among the players Im talking about, Hammerin Hank would be the biggest fan favorite. Plenty of length, but a bit short on results.

    p.s. Can we get Steve Stricker back on track for good? At 131st in money, hes got some heat on him. Hes also got plenty of support behind him. What about Brian Gay? Hes spent more money on Sunday than a third of the PGA Tour has made all year. Look at his Sunday numbers. A bit sad, actually.
     
    p.s.s. Can you believe Pat Perez, Craig Perks, Chris Smith, Steve Elkington, Rich Beem are well outside the coveted top 125?
     
    Here are some LPGA Tour possibilities:
     
  • Grace Park: Grace has the ability and the personality to be as big a draw for the LPGA going forward as Annika Sorenstam is now. Park is fourth on the money list right now, but halfway in money to Annikas $1,665.208. It would be great for the tour if Grace rode into the ADT Championship with a few more big moments.
  • Lorena Ochoa: Ochoa is a remarkable third in money. She turned professional in 2002. This year she won for the first time. Shes one of the LPGAs greats now ' it can only get better.
  • Natalie Gulbis: Natalies earned more publicity for her looks than her play. The numbers say we need to pay attention to what her clubs are saying. Natalies 41st on the money list ' very respectable. Shell win, and when she does, look out. The LPGA will promote her to no end.
  • Hilary Lunke: Since winning the U.S. Womens Open in 2003, Lunke had just 4 rounds in the 60s. That was before this week. Now she has six heading into weekend play at the Wachovia. Wouldnt a win be sweet?
     
    p.s. Can we get Karrie Webb back to form? Like the Champions Tour days of old when Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan battled every week, Sorenstam and Webb were a dynamic duo. For that matter, lets get Kelly Robbins playing better week-to-week instead of just the week of the U.S. Womens Open.
     
    p.s.s. Hard to believe whats going on with Kelli Kuehne (59th) and Beth Bauer (102nd). Both are looked at as a dose of the future of the Solheim Cup for the United States. Were a long way from next years visit to Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., and both look to be a long way off the game that will get them there.
     
    A couple of other things that could get people talking during weeks dominated by the Cowboys and the Patriots, the Bulldogs and the Seminoles.
     
  • D.A. Points, Jimmy Walker or Kevin Stadler winning for the third time on the Nationwide Tour and moving up to the PGA Tour.
  • Ben Crenshaw finding some magic on the Champions Tour before the year is out.
     
    Im not saying that Im desperate for some lightning in a bottle. But the facts are the facts. People will need a reason to stay on top of golf in the coming weeks. The Ryder Cup is only one week on the remaining schedule. We need something to spice things up.
     
    Agreed?
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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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.”