RIFFA, Bahrain – Ian Poulter thinks the rules of golf need to be re-examined in order to avoid the kind of high-profile disqualifications the sport has seen in recent weeks.
Poulter has been one of the more outspoken critics of the game’s rulebook after Padraig Harrington and Camilo Villegas were both disqualified from events this month because of violations that were noticed by TV viewers.
“If you look at a number of the scenarios and situations that we’ve had in the last 12 months, I think a lot of rules certainly need to be re-looked at for sure,” Poulter said Wednesday ahead of the Volvo Golf Champions in Bahrain. “I think there’s no common sense involved with a number of the rules, so that needs to be addressed.”
Harrington was in second place after the first round of last week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championships but was disqualified before he could tee off on Friday after a TV viewer pointed out that he didn’t replace his ball correctly when it moved after he picked up his marker.
Earlier this month, Villegas was disqualified from the Tournament of Champions after he had swatted away loose pieces of grass while his attempted chip up a slope rolled back toward him – removing objects that could have influenced the movement of the ball.
Both players were disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, because their violations should have resulted in a penalty.
Poulter said that’s one rule that is outdated, since there no longer is much of a need for an official scorecard handed in by the players.
“I think the way the game of golf has gone in the last few years, the signature on the scorecard really doesn’t make that much of a difference to be honest,” Poulter said. “Every shot is visible for everybody to see on television, we have walking scorers, and there are the stats people. Therefore, it’s not like you can cheat your score. Therefore, leave the door open if someone has made a mistake. … If they get a two-shot penalty, they are still in the tournament. The tournament still benefits from having some of the world’s best players in the field.”
Poulter himself was given a one-stroke penalty during a two-way playoff at the Dubai World Championship in November after he dropped the ball on his coin marker on the green, effectively giving the victory to Robert Karlsson of Sweden. In that case, the Englishman called over the referee to notify him of the violation right away.