Your Golf Rules Violation Phone Calls Are No Longer Wanted

Your Golf Rules Violation Phone Calls Are No Longer Wanted

Your Golf Rules Violation Phone Calls Are No Longer Wanted

In a long-overdue move, golf’s governing bodies and professional tours no longer will accept input from viewers who think they’ve spotted a rules violation. In addition, there will be no penalty for signing a scorecard with an incorrect score if the player was unaware of an infraction.

The governing bodies and tours also have agreed to assign a rules official to monitor broadcasts and resolve any rules issues they spot.

The new rules take effect January 1, 2018

The now-infamous incident that doubtless was the last straw leading to this change occurred in April 2017. During the final round of the ANA Inspiration, Lexi Thompson was penalized two shots for failing to properly replace a ball on the green during the third round. Then, she was penalized an additional two shots for signing an incorrect scorecard at the end of that round. Perhaps worse, the entire absurd sequence was triggered by a viewer’s email.

An email. It wasn’t the first such bizarre penalty. But hopefully it will be the last.

It is absurd that golf officials ever allowed television audiences to influence the outcome of a tournament. Doing so turned golf into sport’s equivalent of American Idol. The NFL does not  its television audiences to call in penalties. Nor does MLB. No real sport does.

While I understand the need to protect the field, there also is a need to protect the sport from appearing ridiculous. There is a cost-benefit ratio to consider here. Did the benefit of retroactively getting the call right with Thompson outweigh the cost of the embarrassment suffered by the LPGA in the ensuing backlash? I wonder …

)For what it’s worth, I am absolutely certain that in the case of Thompson, it was a matter of a moment’s unintentional carelessness, not a deliberate attempt to pick up a couple of millimeters.)

Finally, I suspect that even without the close video scrutiny of an army of amateur rules lawyers, careless players (or cheaters) will pay a price. In our amped-up media environment, slow-motion replays of suspected rules violations will find their way to television, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else where video can be disseminated. By all accounts, cheaters already are ostracized by fellow PGA TOUR players. If video evidence of unchecked cheating (or carelessness) starts to surface online, that player also is likely to suffer repercussions from sponsors. No one wants to be associated with a cheater — or even a suspected cheater.

Now … if golf’s ruling bodies would just fix the stroke-and-distance rule on lost balls …

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