Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is Viewers Calling In on Rules Fair?

I've got some questions about my take on the viewers calling in on rules violation during live golf events, so I decided to give a few sentences on my thoughts on what I think. As you know, Camilo Villegas got disqualified on Friday after moving a loose impediment during his Thursday round. He finished the round, signed his scorecard, but a viewer called in the rules infraction and after reviewing it, the PGA Tour decided he had broke the rules and needed to be disqualified.

Now, I've got two big points here that I want to make about this, and these are my biggest pushes.

First, I don't hate the fact that viewers can call in on rules. It makes golf distinctive and a little more viewer-friendly, giving people at home an actual hand in events if they see something happen that others don't. Do I feel good when it happens, deep in my stomach? No, it still feels a bit unfair, but as we all know, golf has about 36,000 rules and not one person can know them all (that's why even rules officials drive around with those big books in their carts). Did Villegas intentionally do that? No, not at all. He was doing it more out of frustration than anything. It was a playful move that got him DQ'd. I remember back when Phil Mickelson was playing the PGA Championship, and after a bunker shot that left him in the bunker once more, he was raking the sand with his feet, only to look up to an official and let him know, "I'm not testing the sand!"

So, do I like the viewers calling in? Umm, kinda. I'm like 56 percent. It works, because it makes golf completely different from any other sport, but I do feel a little dirty when someone gets canned from an event for it.

Now, what do I think is an appropriate measure we could do to make this a little more fair? Why not just access the appropriate penalty to whoever got the viewer to call in instead of just disqualifying the golfer? See, if you sign a card and didn't access a penalty, you are automatically disqualified. So why not add a rule that says if someone from an outside party (not an official, playing partner, spectator, etc.) that could have IMMEDIATE influence on a player on that exact situation calls out a rules infraction, the player can still access the penalty to that hole, given a certain amount of time after (Say, until he hits a tee shot in the next round). So, if this happened to Villeags, he is given the two-stroke penalty for moving the divot, and he can keep playing. This gives the viewers a chance to keep calling in, and the players not a death sentence if they do.

So, that's my solution. Golf is pretty crazy, and the rules are even crazier, but we should give the players a little bit of a break here if we can. If everyone in the world is watching an event, any little misstep could cost you a LOT of money.


Anonymous said...

As the guy who "snitched" on Villegas (as Ian Poulter put it), I agree with your suggestion that more time should be given to avoid a DQ in a situation like this.
I actually never "phoned in" to the PGA Tour. I sent one Tweet to the tour and one to Golf Channel saying that they might want to take a look at the video. I never heard back from the tour or the Golf Channel, so I can't say if they read my message or not.
I still find it hard to believe that nobody in a position of authority saw the infraction when it happened or on the replay on TV.

Anonymous said...

dave andrews is my name

Mel said...

I agree. The problem isn't people spotting infractions the problem is that the penalty doesn't seem to fit the crime. The Tour uses DQ all too often. Disqualified should only apply if something quite serious has happened - obvious cheating - unacceptable on-course behaviour - that sort of thing. Anything else - just assess the appropriate number of penalty strokes and let the golfer keep playing.

Anonymous said...

Is it really "access" a penalty?

diane said...

There's a lot more tournament golf played away from the cameras than in front of them. Whether it's a club championship or a USGA championship, all are played according to the Rules of Golf. The Rules are unequivocal, if you sign an incorrect scorecard you are disqualified.

If the PGA Tour wants to adopt a policy, which it's allowed to do as the "committee," that states a player whose violations are only identified by television viewers are assessed (not accessed) the penalty appropriate for the violation, that's probably not a bad idea. But changing the Rules of Golf to accommodate television is beyond reasonable.

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