Back and Forth

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2010, 2:20 am

Golf is governed by just 34 rules, although anyone with a Wi-Fi connection or basic cable package would be excused for thinking the sport is riddled with more small print than the Tiger Woods divorce settlement.

From Dustin Johnson to Juli Inkster to Jim Furyk, it seems the ancient game has been hijacked by disclaimers. No need for walking rules officials any longer, roaming teams of lawyers will now tag along to assure compliance.

For Johnson and Inkster, the Rules of Golf left little room for interpretation. Furyk, however, was every bit a self-inflicted wound. When the consummate pro was bounced from last week’s Barclays for missing his pro-am tee time by no more than 10 minutes neither the execution nor the idea made much sense.

The pro-am policy was enacted in 2004 to protect sponsors, but Barclays took a potent right-left combination when the then-third ranked FedEx Cup player missed his five-hour pro-am shmooz-fest and the tournament proper.

On Tuesday the Tour reversed course and nixed the rule for the remainder of the 2010 season thanks, in large part, to the biting comments of Phil Mickelson.

Although it’s encouraging to see Mickelson using his substantial powers for good, rather than evil, his withdrawal from Thursday’s pro-am at TPC Boston smacks of Phil being Phil.

Mickelson made his point beyond even a dollop of ambiguity last Wednesday saying, “(the pro-am rule) is not protecting the players. It's not protecting the sponsors. It applies to only half the field and yet it affects the integrity of the competition. I cannot disagree with it more.”

Although Lefty’s Deutsche Bank dodge smacks of piling on, much like his decision to play non-conforming-yet-legal grooves earlier this year at Torrey Pines, his dissension echoed the loudest last week and likely went a long way to prompting the Tour’s 180 on the policy.

It was an ill-conceived rule and another example of the Tour mandating a machete when a well-handled scalpel was in order.

Since 2004 when the pro-am policy began there have been seven disqualifications as a result of a player missing a pro-am tee time – two in ’04 (Peter Jacobson, 84 Lumber Classic and David Forst, Byron Nelson Championship), one in 2005 (Retief Goosen, Nissan Open), three in 2008 (John Daly, Nick O’Hern and Ryuji Imada at Bay Hill) and Furyk last week.

“Look the fact is there have been (seven) disqualifications over four years. There really isn’t that big of a problem,” said one member of the Player Advisory Council. “There is not a problem if common sense is applied.”

It’s a testament that most players don’t need to be told that it’s important to take care of sponsors. It’s akin to the circuit’s elaborate, and widely ignored, pace of play policy. The vast majority of players don’t need to be told that five-hour rounds are bad for golf, to say nothing of mental health, yet a handful of habitual offenders continue to make life slow in the big leagues.

“What was so badly needed was the same few guys kept making excuses why they couldn’t play the pro-ams,” said another member of the PAC. “Instead of dealing with the few problems a rule was made affecting everyone except, as Phil says and it’s true, it only pertains to half the field.

“Like slow play, we say we are addressing the problem when actually the heart of the problem isn’t fixed.”

In November the Policy Board will attempt to conjure up a fix to the suspended rule and there are no shortage of suggestions. One veteran player suggested a player who misses a pro-am tee time pay a fine, say $5,000, to the tournament charity; while another said a player showing up late – most agree a player who misses a pro-am entirely should be disqualified from that week’s tournament – should finish the pro-am and then take his group out to lunch on his own dime.

Yet millionaires writing checks to tidy up broken china rarely works (see Gulf Spill and BP), and there is already a provision in the Tour regulations that allows a top player (top 30 from the previous year’s money or FedEx Cup list) to opt out of a pro-am twice in a single season in exchange for an alternative sponsor function.

“In a pro-am three or four amateurs are going to get five hours with Phil on the golf course, which is great, but maybe it’s better if you have a dinner with 20 executives and clients for two or three hours,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration. “Maybe that’s a better use of a player’s time.”

At issue is whether the Tour even needs a regulation. Before 2004, a missed pro-am tee time was handled under the circuit’s “conduct unbecoming” clause, with officials and administrators given the flexibility to handle issues on a case by case basis, free of the mandates of a Draconian policy.

That Mickelson and others are now incensed by a five-year old regulation simply proves a long-held truth – the independent contractors care little for Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., minutia until it hits home or a tad too close to home.

“I’m not sure the mandate was required,” said one PAC member. “It’s a classic case of cutting off the arm when a simple bandage would have worked.”

In this case, less is more, and legalese only makes things messy. Just ask Furyk and Barclays.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.