Cut Line Can You Hear Me Now - COPIED

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2011, 1:38 am

Tiger Woods was fined by the European Tour this week for expectorating – it’s a word, look it up – on the 12th green Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic while Lee Westwood has turned a personal decision into an assault on the PGA Tour’s policies.

Both got calls they didn’t want, which seems about right the same week the PGA Tour rebrands itself officially cell phone friendly.

Made Cut

Hogan’s Alley. In the age of TPCs and 7,500-yard behemoths, Riviera Country Club is a testament to creative architecture and challenging choices.

At 315 yards, the Riv’s 10th played to a virtual par push in 2010 (3.932) and had 153 of the world’s best attempt to drive its wildly pitched putting surface with just seven managing to pull it off.

“It's just old-time golf at its best, and like I say, this is one of the best,” Steve Stricker said this week at the Northern Trust Open.

Let’s hope the PGA of America remembers that the next time they go looking for a West Coast PGA Championship venue.

Pop quiz: What do Davis Love III, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Larry the Cable Guy have in common, beyond an affinity for turkey jerky and detailed knowledge of how to skin a deer?

Answer: All three are said to have written testimonials for Boo Weekley’s new book due out on March 29. Truth is, of all the golf books that come across our desk, Weekley’s tome is the one we’re most interested in reading.

Back to the Black. According to reports, the Tour is considering adding Bethpage Black to an already solid rotation for The Barclays.

Although we’d hate to see Bethpage fall out of the U.S. Open rotation, it would be nice to see the Grand Dame of public golf play the way nature intended, without the aid of squeegees and Sub-Air.

Captain creative. We have not been shy in this space taking Corey Pavin to task for the United States’ loss last year in Wales, but the 2010 skipper went outside the box this week when asked about expanding the matches to four days, going one better and suggesting the respective PGAs add an additional match to each session.

“It would be great if you could play five matches each session (instead of four),” Pavin said. “The players like it a lot more because they get to play. When you have to sit eight guys down every session, it's hard. That's a lot of guys to sit down, and you're sitting down a third of your team.”

Of course, had they had to play an extra match each team session last year in Wales the event may still be going on.


 

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

PDAs (Please Don’t Attempt . . . to take pictures). The Tour announced this week it was moving forward with its new cell phone policy, although to most tournament-goers it may come as a surprise they weren’t allowed to bring their electronic leashes on property before.

Although the policy has good intentions, expect some growing pains if previous experiments are any indication. On Friday at the Farmers Insurance Open officials confiscated 13 cell phones from the throng trailing Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines . . . on the first hole.

The Tour is being proactive, however, and has tinkered with its enforcement policy since Torrey.

“We went into this with a zero-tolerance approach to photography. What we noticed is that we were spending so much time trying to enforce a policy that is quite frankly unenforceable. When you’ve got 2,500 people walking with Tiger and half have cell phones to try and enforce a zero-tolerance policy you’d have to have 1,000 volunteers,” Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, told GolfChannel.com.

“We changed our tact a little at Pebble and focused our efforts on pre-tournament education. The biggest impact was we had volunteers and mobile device task force members that would make announcements along the rope lines. It worked beautifully. It was a much better way to approach it.”

The new policy will only help grow interest in the game but be warned – some learning curves are more painful than others.

Tweet of the week: @PaulGoydosPGA “Getting ready to play (the Northern Trust Open). Set a goal of being better than last week. I like setting attainable goals.”

Goydos missed the cut at Pebble Beach with closing rounds of 79-79.


 Missed Cut

Magic Loogies. It seems strangely apropos that the same day “Spit-gate” goes viral is also the same day that pitchers and catchers report to major league camps across Florida and Texas, where spitting is a sport unto itself.

Which seems to cut to the heart of Tiger Woods’ recent faux pas. On Thursday, a friend from Australia blasted Woods’ actions on the 12th green Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic while a fellow American, and self-proclaimed non-Tiger fan, seemed to dismiss the act as childish but hardly a heinous offense. The divide seems to be cultural.

“I have quite a few players who would get fined in Europe for spitting, but the U.S. Tour doesn't care much about decorum, or enforcing any of its conduct rules,” said one longtime manager with players on both sides of the pond. “The attitude about spitting is completely different in Europe.”

Curious, however, that as egregious as Woods’ actions seem to be overseas, it hasn’t soured the powers on his singularly powerful draw. According to reports, Woods is close to penning a new deal that would bring him back to play the Dubai Desert Classic for three more years.

As offensive as Woods’ actions were, in the pantheon of etiquette violations, it was akin to jaywalking.

Tweet of the Week II: @TigerWoods “The Euro Tour is right – it was inconsiderate to spit like that and I know better. Just wasn’t thinking and want to say I’m sorry.”

We applaud Woods for the quick turnaround, but are not sure damage control is what the folks at Twitter had in mind for their social network.

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.

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.”