A Bad Connection? PGA Tour Looking Into Issues Of Fans Calling In Rules Violations
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem yesterday at the Tour Championship in Atlanta said that spectators in the gallery or television viewers “alerting officials to possible rules issues is ‘difficult and awkward’ and that the PGA Tour is studying the matter,” according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. Finchem specifically said that the Tour "would look into whether it is fair for a player to be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard when spectator or video information comes to light after the fact." Finchem: "We need to do some more thinking about it. I think people in the game need to think about it." Harig noted the issue is "prominent again after the rules issue faced by Tiger Woods on Friday at the BMW Championship, where he was assessed a two-stroke penalty only after enhanced slow-motion video footage showed that his ball moved while he attempted to remove debris." Woods has been "involved in three high-profile rules situations this year, two of which came to light due to video." The ability of television viewers, spectators or anyone "not directly involved in the competition to bring a possible violation to officials has long been controversial." Not every player "is on camera, and golf has long prided itself on being a self-policing game, with fellow competitors and caddies doing the duty of protecting the rest of the field." Golfer Brandt Snedeker said, "At some point you have to draw a line and stop it. I don't know where that is ... I don't think fans should be able to call in and dictate the outcome of a tournament" (ESPN.com, 9/17). In N.Y., Mike Tierney notes Finchem "pointed out that the field could be leveled for all players if technology advances to where a camera is aimed at every shot" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). Golf Channel's Steve Flesch said, “I really don’t like the idea of call-ins, but I think the easiest solution is what we actually discussed in a (Player Advisory Committee) meeting a few years ago: having an official in the TV truck just kind of watching everything that goes on. That way he sees it first hand and can call any infractions or whatever if he needs to” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 9/18).
TAKING THEIR TIME: Finchem said that the Tour "would probably take a harder look" at the issue after the end of the season. However, GOLFWEEK's Alex Miceli wondered if the Tour actually will, as it "just went through an exhausting exercise about anchored putters and in the end, decided they were unwilling to split from the Rules of Golf and didn’t want to make and enforce their own set of rules." By "fundamentally changing the way the rules are enforced, the Tour would be doing just that and leaving the rules eventually in tatters." If the Tour is "serious about such a change, Finchem made it clear they would first go to the rules-making bodies." Finchem: “Sure, we go talk to the USGA and R&A. Our batting average with them hasn’t been real good the last year, but we’d have a nice conversation with them and then it would be we’d have to decide what we want to do" (GOLFWEEK.com, 9/17).
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: The PGA of America yesterday formally announced that Bethpage Black will host the '19 PGA Championship and the '24 Ryder Cup. PGA of America President Ted Bishop said, “In the history of the PGA of America, we’ve played more championships in the state of New York than any other state. ... This announcement today is about Bethpage, it’s about this venue and it’s about what it’s going to mean for the ’19 PGA and the ’24 Ryder Cup. I think that in the historical annals of our championship, when you look back at these two events down the road, these could be two of the biggest and greatest we’ve ever had” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 9/17).