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Is Golf Too Honest For Its Own Good?

An article in the Great Falls Tribune, written by Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson:

“PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is asking the USGA to review the Rules of Golf after two prominent players were disqualified for rules violations that were reported after they signed their scorecards. Television viewers called in violations by Camillo Villegas in Hawaii and Padraig Harrington in Abu Dhabi. …Finchem wants a ‘full and thorough review’ of the rule, so golf officials can ask if there is a better way to penalize players.”

I know this has happened a few times, golf television viewers calling somebody in authority to point out a rules infraction that has penalized a player. I know the precedent has already been set, but my question is, why does golf allow people watching television to call penalties on its players??

I know golf and its athletes takes pride in its honesty. Players call penalties on themselves, for pete’s sake. Players could call penalties on each other, and each tournament has rules officials to clarify or penalize violations. Why does golf allow people that have nothing to do with the tournament have a say in its outcome? Yes, replay showed something illegal happened. Replay is used in other sports, and even if replay gets it wrong, fans don’t get to call in and change the call. Even in the worst possible error in rule judgment, like the World Cup non-goal by the Americans that replay clearly showed hit the crossbar, bounced down completely across the goal line and then spun back into the field of play. Not even a call from the living room of the president of FIFA himself would have changed that call.

The PGA would like to see an adjustment in the rules; for example, give a player a two stroke penalty rather than disqualify the player. I think they should review who’s calling the penalties. Many golf broadcasts now have a PGA rules representative on hand to explain the rules. Maybe they could review the replay and make the call themselves. Even in golf, with so many black and white rules, fans should just sit at home and complain that ‘they missed that call’ just like in other sports. Am I wrong?

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