Cut Line A Cup Half Empty

By Rex HoggardAugust 14, 2010, 2:59 am
2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The Ryder Cup is always the story within the story during PGA Championship week, but this year the biennial grudge matches stole the spotlight from “Glory’s Last Shot” for all the wrong reasons.

If the captain’s press conference on Wednesday was any indication, this year’s matches may make the heated “War on the Shore” look like the Tavistock Cup. WWE’s Vince McMahan would have been proud, and “Cut Line” scarcely knows where to start.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Whatever the relationship between the world No. 1 and Sean Foley, Woods gets kudos for bringing in a second set of eyes – let’s be honest, the video stuff didn’t seem to be working – and realizing he needed help.

Be it by desperation or design, Foley seems a good fit for Camp Eldrick. His credentials (having coached two players to three Tour titles in the last two months) are beyond reproach and his deft handling of this week’s media frenzy suggests he’s up to the task of living in the world No. 1’s fish bowl.

A word of unsolicited caution, however. Swing instructors are like football coaches, they get too much praise during the good times and far too much blame during the bad. Just ask Hank Haney.

Club pros. Twenty non-descript players, the lunchbox set of professional golf, will quietly go about their business this week at the 92nd PGA Championship. Most will be gone long before Sunday’s trophy ceremony, but all will cherish the experience to the extreme.

“Shot 67 (on Wednesday),” said Ryan Benzel, one of “Cut Line’s” favorite 9-5ers and a Pacific Northwest teaching pro. “This is awesome.”

Not bad for a guy who folds shirts and hawks tee times for a living.

Tweet of the Week: @PaulAzinger “Tiger said he would accept pick to play (Ryder Cup). Said he wants to be there! Does that now make him a lock to be on the team? I say it does.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Woods, Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim. Wednesday’s soiree at captain Corey Pavin’s rented house wasn’t mandatory. Wasn’t even highly recommended, but for one player wrestling with public perception problems and another fresh off a stint on the DL it was a curious miss.

According to multiple sources, all but three players from the top 20 on the U.S. points list attended the meeting, with Woods, Mickelson and Kim taking a curious pass.

Lefty is first on the points list and certainly deserves a pass, and perhaps Woods and Kim had perfectly legitimate reasons for skipping – fondue on the menu and a cash bar come to mind – but it just seems the American side could use all the team building it can get right now.

Corey Pavin/Jim Gray. Whatever side of the he said/he said debate you subscribe to, the high-profile row between the U.S. Ryder Cup captain and the Golf Channel contributor leaves little room for conversation.

Both miss the 54-hole cut because they let what should have been a private conversation between adults escalate into a strange public disagreement on Wednesday at the PGA Championship.

Whistling Straits’ 18th hole. Herb Kohler’s gem has been described by some as the best 17-hole course in the world, and this week’s PGA suggests there is something to that with players largely praising the faux links layout.

The Straits’ 18th hole remains a work in progress, however. A new fairway built down the left side will get little use this week since it would require a 310- to 320-yard drive to reach the short grass and little room beyond that before there is more rough and hazards.

One Tour caddie didn’t pull any punches when asked if anyone would use the new landing area, “Yeah, if you’re a dumbass.”

Missed Cut

Colin Montgomerie. “Cut Line” has had big fun with the European skipper this year, but the Scot’s actions of late have slid from the entertaining to the inexplicable.

Monty scolded reporters earlier this week for asking about a reported injunction he has against an ex-girlfriend. According to a recent report he, “won an injunction in the British courts to prevent his ex-girlfriend from revealing details about their relationship.”

“Excuse me, I'm here to talk about the Ryder Cup,” Montgomerie said when asked about the injunction on Wednesday. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subject regarding anything – or anything regarding my private life. By definition that is private.”

Curious then that Monty had a much different take on Woods’ “private life” earlier this year when he wrote an article in the Telegraph Sport.

“Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does. He will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him,” Monty wrote. “Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group.”

Similarly, some might find Monty’s comments difficult to stomach.

United Kingdom taxman. Whether Woods, or any other American, would accept an invitation to play this year’s Ryder Cup took an interesting turn last week when reports surfaced that they may be subject to U.K. taxes on endorsements and other income.

For Woods, whose portfolio already has taken a healthy hit this year, that could be as much as £1million. The European Tour, which runs overseas Ryder Cups, is in discussions with U.K. tax officials.

“My accountant has told me I could be liable,” Paul Casey said. “I will always go back because it’s home, but I fear it will keep people away. I’m not a huge fan of paying through the nose for something.”

And fans heading to this year’s matches in Wales thought they were paying through the nose.

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 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.”