Finchem Asks For USGA Review of Rules

In the wake of the Padraig Harrington and Camilo Villegas disqualifications, Tim Finchem has asked the USGA for a review of the rules. According to the New York Times, Finchem spoke with reporters before the Farmers Insurance Open:

“Based on the two situations in recent weeks, we are re-articulating our concern to the USGA,” Finchem told reporters at Torrey Pines ahead of this week’s Farmers Insurance Open.

“And I’ve spoken at length to the European Tour a couple of times in the last 10 days, and they also are joining with us in questioning this rule. When I say question it we are asking for a full and thorough review of the rule…”

Finchem said simply penalizing a player two shots retroactively would perhaps be adequate in cases where a player had no knowledge he had violated a rule and that violation came to light only after the round.

I think the solution isn’t really that difficult. Players and their caddies should monitor each other. Walking officials should observe. If no objection has been raised by the time the card is signed, then there’s no violation. If the Tour wanted to extend it a bit, then there could be a half hour delay between the finish of a round and the signing of the card. That would give people time to call or tweet in with their observations, and give Tour officials time to act. But if the card is signed and no objection raised by those present on site, television viewers shouldn’t be allowed to tank a player after the fact.

Somehow, a fair game of golf was played back in the day before wall-to-wall high def television and millions of viewers acting as referees. Players and their caddies protected the field by monitoring themselves and each other. That’s the way golf was meant to be played.

5 thoughts on “Finchem Asks For USGA Review of Rules”

  1. You know, something like this is eventually going to happen on the Monday after the winner has signed his score card and picked up his trophy.

  2. Good point Glen.

    I have to admit that I am still a little torn on this.  The more I think about Harrington, I am wondering how did he ever not know that ball moved?  His finger glanced the ball to cause it to move, and wasn’t he watching the ball?  The more I think about this, I think he DID know it moved and was nervous about the remarking and replacing and decided to ignore so as try to not incur a penalty.  If he knows the rules, he knows that he should have remarked and replaced with no penalty. 

    The rules are the rules, and the idea is to strickly follow and enforce them.  But also at the same time, the impact of this violation is absolutely zero.  The ball moving 4mm, or turning 3 dimples has no impact on whether that putt is going to be made or not. 

    There is the factor of how the leaders and the popular kids on tour will get more scrutiny- while folks out of the top 10 won’t be watched much at all.  Or Phil’s ball doesn’t get the closeup that Tiger’s ball does as they replace it. 

    On the plus side for home review though, is that if they did make some way in which it is sort of sanctioned, you might just increase interest.  You would definately increase knowledge of the rules, which isn’t bad.  The 30 minute limit seems like a good idea, but the problem there is the winner often is finishing last, and pretty much goes from the green to the scoring tent and back out to get his award.  If you made it 30 minutes after a violation, and then cutoff home review as the last group reaches the 15th tee – because by then, you could have the officials from the event watching all the coverage in real time.

    I wonder what the Masters will do if a home viewer tries to call a violation.

  3. The existance of video greatly complicates many situations.

    Going back to the Harrington situation, he stated he was aware he nudged the ball but he felt it merely oscillated and did not move.  If he remarked and moved the ball back 1 cm, he would risk being guilty of playing from the wrong place if subsequent replay showed the ball did not move.  As it turned out, he followed his perception that the ball did not move and played it.  Unfortunately, in fact the ball did move as confirmed on video re-play.

    In this instance he had only 2 real recourses: play two balls or wait for a rules official to come and make a ruling on the spot.

    It is easy to see how the presence of video could force players to constantly ask for an immediate ruling or play 2 balls.  For example, one takes a drop from a sprinkler head.  The ball bounces forward but looks like it is no closer to the hole.  However, maybe on video replay it is in fact 1 cm closer than the original spot.  Again, get a rules official or play two balls.

    I don’t think anyone wants this slow game to get any slower.  The tour certainly does not want to employ 36 or so rules officials (one for each group on the course).

    The clear answer is to limit after the fact rulings on penalties from video replay to 5 minutes after a player holes out on his last hole.

  4. I had another thought about this.  If I am a spectator at an event – can I raise an issue regarding a violation I see with a rules official?  What if I see this blatant violation and there is no video covering it, does that get any recognition by the tour or event officials?

    Given that a spectator actually there would never be able to call a foul when actually there live- then now I am thinking the actual tour response should be that the video review by home viewers is out.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.