One of the neat things about watching golf has always been that as a fan, I could notify the PGA Tour about a rules infraction if I saw one. No other sport on the planet allows me, a fan to impact the outcome of an event. The decision that came down on Tuesday, that will take effect on January 1st, 2014 addressed the wrong side of the problem. It took me out of the equation for the first time in history, and now golf is just like the rest of the sports world.
My real problem has never been with a player being assessed a two-stroke penalty for violating a rule after the fact, even if he didn’t know at the time that he made a mistake. I have always been opposed to a player being disqualified for signing a scorecard that was incorrect the next day after a fan called in at midnight. A player has the opportunity to go out the next day and make up those strokes, but if he’s DQ’d he’s on a plane going home without a paycheck. That’s unfair.
I do agree with Kyle Porter at EyeOnGolf that because Tiger Woods is on-camera far more than Kevin Streelman, the rules are somewhat more unfair to Tiger. Kevin Streelman will less likely be caught violating a rule simply because he is seen less.
Decision 18/4 is the forerunner to completely removing rules decisions from folks not inside the ropes and while that might not be the just thing to do, it’s definitely going to happen.
Many people put the onus of the “Rules of Golf” on the players and say that if they play the game for money, they should know, and understand the rules. I ask you, how many Quarterbacks in the NFL know, and understand the rulebook provided by the NFL. Maybe Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees, but not all players understand the rules, and that’s why there are official on the field that do know, and understand the rules.
Although I have felt that this situation needed to be looked at, and adjusted, I think the rule makers are taking the wrong approach. Keep me in the loop for identifying problems, but don’t DQ a player after the fact. Add more rules officials around the golf course, especially in all of the majors.
The culture has always been that a player will call in an official if he needs help with a ruling, rules officials should be able to approach a player if he thinks the player is about violate a rule. Had a rules official been with Tiger Woods at Augusta, and intervened prior to Tigers drop, the entire incident could have been avoided.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+