Cut Line MC for Tour Policy

By Rex HoggardNovember 14, 2009, 4:34 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Walt Disney World cut is the axe that keeps on giving. For more than a few unlucky trunk slammers the MC at WDW means you’re out of time in 2009, out of cash flow for 2010 and out of luck for those complimentary “Park Hooper” tickets the kids love.

But before we shed too many tears for David Duval, whose 149 total dropped him out of the weekend rotation at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic and out of hope for a ’10 Tour card, keep in mind that “Double D” will get more than enough starts based on his veteran status and his runner-up showing at the U.S. Open. The rest of this week’s “Cut Line” cast, is not so lucky.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Sure, the Australian government paid the world No. 1 the GDP of a small nation to lure him back Down Under for the first time since 1998, but anyone who has watched this week’s action from Kingston Heath would be hard pressed to say he’s not earning his keep.

Melbourne’s streets are packed, crowds are lined 10-deep ... for a practice round, and one of the nation’s Sand Belt gems is getting global exposure. Is Woods worth the reported $3 million tab, half of which was generated through public funds, it took him to draw him back to Australia? Who is?

The question should be is he worth the investment to encourage tourism and promote the area? Tough to argue that one.

Torrey Pines. The Century Club of San Diego Invitational won the lottery last Sunday when Phil Mickelson edged Woods to win what was essentially his third start in his last four events (counting the Presidents Cup) and dutifully announced he’d see us late next January on the Seaside muni.

Although he hasn’t made it official, the former Buick Invitational, which is currently caught in sponsorship limbo after the embattled car manufacturer bailed, will likely be Woods’ first start of 2010.

Add it up, the world Nos. 1 and 2 closed the season with two Sunday duels (Tour Championship and HSBC Champions) and co-MVP honors at Harding Park. Unless Mickleson forgets Dave Stockston’s cell number or Woods decides to open a dingo farm Down Under, Torrey Pines is shaping up to be one grand opening.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

European Tour. First the global economy cost the circuit 25 percent of its inaugural Race for Dubai loot, and now it appears as if a mini player revolt is in the making.

After weeks of crossed wires, Rory McIlroy – the European equivalent of a first-round draft choice – announced he would take up PGA Tour membership in 2010, a move that will require 15 starts and likely reduce his European schedule.

Things got worse for the Euro tour when Adam Scott blasted a purposed rule change that would require players to participate in at least four of the circuit’s six marquee events.

“I think if they ask too much, then they certainly are risking (push back from players),” said Justin Rose, who will add events to his early U.S. schedule next year in the hopes of creating opportunities in Europe during the summer.

“But I'm sure they're trying to tread a very fine line between encouraging guys to play not necessarily more, but to really support the key events, Wentworth, the flagship events of the tour.”

Reminds us of an old line from a former boss, 'Never ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.'

Missed Cut

PGA Tour. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The circuit’s anti-doping initiative was supposed to prove the Tour was clean and pave the way to Olympic gold. It was supposed to be transparent and even handed.

Yet as the ongoing legal battle raged in a Memphis courtroom between Doug Barron’s attorneys and an army of Tour lawyers, it seems the policy was neither just nor relevant.

According to the lawsuit filed by Barron’s attorneys, the 40-year-old journeyman tried to work this out with the Tour, requesting a therapeutic use exemption which was denied, and ultimately choose the advice of his doctors, who warned him it was risky to stop taking the beta blockers and testosterone he’d been taking “cold turkey,” over that of the Tour’s lawyers.

Although most anti-doping policies do not recognize intent as a defense for a positive test, one World Anti-Doping Organization official conceded, “Victor Conte’s clients (the kingpin of the BALCO controversy that rocked Major League Baseball) didn’t ask for permission.”

Barron did.

Jose Lambiet. The Palm Beach Post columnist recently blasted Tiger Woods’ $44.5 million abode on Jupiter Island, calling the future Woods estate “a cross between a discount motel and a beachside nursing home.”

Lambiet concedes the world No. 1’s better half, Elin, is in charge at 1 Woods Place and reports the 9,700-square-foot home will feature living quarters and a gym connected by a covered walkway (what, no replica of Amen Corner?)

The aerial shots of the estate, however, tell another tale. Take it from somebody who has stayed in his share of “discount motels,” Tiger’s castle is better than advertised.
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.”