Newsmaker of the Year No. 3: Adam Scott

By Rex HoggardDecember 26, 2013, 1:05 pm

In the April gloom Adam Scott unleashed a primal roar that was some 80 years in the making – “C’mon Aussie,” he roared into the approaching darkness.

Nine months removed from a meltdown at the 2012 Open Championship that some figured the 33-year-old might never recover from, Scott birdied three of Augusta National’s last six holes on Sunday to force overtime against Angel Cabrera and beat the Argentine with a birdie at the second playoff frame.

Had that been the end of Scott’s 2013 tale his status as one of the year’s top stories would have been undeniable, a real-time climb from torment to triumph. But the soft-spoken star with leading-man looks and a textbook golf swing was far from finished.

In fact, before Scott clipped Cabrera to become the first Australian to slip into the green jacket, he’d already made a surprising mark on the game.

In January, Scott joined Tim Clark at Torrey Pines to take a stand against the USGA and Royal & Ancient’s proposed ban on anchoring. It was out of character for both players, particularly Scott, who began using a long putter in 2011, and their arguments against the ban helped shape a debate that threatened to shred the tender fabric that ties golf’s rule-makers.

“It’s a good time to speak up and make people understand why we feel so passionate about this and why it affects not only us but thousands of golfers around the world,” Scott said during a Golf Channel interview in March.

“If they came out and said they were going to ban the short putter, I see no difference in that. How would a person who uses a short putter feel? Neither style of putting has been against the rules. It’s unfair to change the rules mid-round.”



Golf’s rule-makers went ahead with the ban but not before allowing that the rule-making process going forward would be more inclusive, a nod to a growing number of PGA Tour types who said it may be time for two sets of rules.

Along the way Scott added a FedEx Cup playoff victory at The Barclays, climbed to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and anchored an International Presidents Cup team that is closer to relevance than many observers realize despite another loss at Muirfield Village.

But it was back home in Australia where Scott made his most significant impact.

In November he began his homecoming tour at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, where he grew up. Scott trotted out the green jacket at every turn because “it doesn’t get seen too much down here,” he smiled. On Friday at the Australian PGA he began to understand the full measure of his Masters victory when officials held a “green day” for the fans.

“I expected to see some fans in green, but to have so many players wearing green as well ... it was very humbling,” Scott said.

He won the Australian PGA by four strokes to secure the career Australian Slam, with victories in his country’s Open, Masters and now PGA. A week later at Royal Melbourne he added more fuel to the frenzy with his second consecutive Australian Masters triumph and, for good measure, teamed with Jason Day to claim the World Cup a week later on the sand-belt gem.

The homecoming was only slightly marred when Scott was outdueled by Rory McIlroy at the Australian Open in Sydney, but that miscue did nothing to diminish his impact on the Australian psyche.

The country had been waiting for an heir to Greg Norman, a player who could transcend golf with his play and his personality. Early in his career, Scott had been dubbed the “Baby Shark” by then-swing coach Butch Harmon.

“They used to call me that when I was a kid when I first went to them because I carried on about Greg so much, but it didn’t stick,” Scott said.

Perhaps it was best that moniker didn’t take considering the depth of his success in 2013. Some suggested during Scott’s victory tour that he’d eclipsed his hero in the public consciousness as evidenced by the crowds that greeted him at every turn and golf’s new status on the front page.

In signature Scott fashion, he dismissed that idea, opting instead for a humility that was neither forced nor false.

“With Norman, I felt he was larger than life and I don’t feel like that’s what I’m doing, but I did enjoy seeing so many kids out there,” Scott said at Royal Melbourne. “Hopefully I can help the next bunch of guys come along.”

All victories and defeats are personal, but Scott’s triumph at the Masters was shared by the Australian collective and, when fully examined, appears greater than the sum of its parts. From his letdown at Lytham St. Annes in 2012 to the elation of ending an entire nation’s Masters nightmare, the full measure of Scott’s 2013 promises to transcend golf and the calendar. 


More Newsmakers in 2013:

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 4: Phil Mickelson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 5: Anchoring

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 6: Inbee Park

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 7: Rory McIlroy

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 8: Henrik Stenson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 9: Jordan Spieth

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

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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.”