Keep the viewers out of the game
You are correct in saying that someone who broke the rules should be penalized (“Don’t blame TV viewers for exposing rules violators,” May 1, http://bit.ly/2pFRLxD). However, the PGA/LPGA should not be relying on TV viewers to help with officiating and then penalizing a player after the fact. What if baseball changed umpires' calls because someone watching TV saw (or thought they saw) a questionable call or if TV viewers could cause the league to reverse hockey or basketball refs' calls? That would be nonsense. Officials' calls, good or bad, are part of the game.
The PGA/LPGA has total video coverage of every hole on the course. In hockey and other sports, video replay is used on the spot to correct discrepancies, not 24 hours later and not based on tips from TV viewers. Since the PGA Tour seems to use the video to confirm the TV fans' complaint, it seems to me that they could have officials looking at the game on TV while play is going on and employ on-the-course "umpires" to watch. It’s not as if golf is so fast-paced that they can't monitor what is going on. They already have rules officials that make calls about out of bounds, etc., so why aren't they seeing these "violations”?
If the players can't police themselves (as apparently they can't), it's time for golf to do it for them. TV viewers should not be part of deciding the outcome of a match.
Golfers should police themselves
Golf is a game in which the competitors police themselves. It's also one of the few games in which the ball is static – and thus the game is not reactionary or fast-paced like many other sports.
Asking or expecting golfers to call penalties on themselves on one hand and then having alert viewers be able to cite infractions well after the fact is contradictory at best and possibly even hypocritical. No other sport allows for scoring changes after the fact.
An NFL lineman knows he's holding on almost every play, but unless the official calls it, the game (and eventual result) are not changed. Pitchers scuff the ball or use a foreign substance and basketball players know they last touched a ball that's headed out of bounds, but do they alert the ref? The phantom tag at second base during the execution of a double play is another example. The list goes on.
Golfers should police themselves, as they did for decades, if not centuries, before TV and modern technology made it possible for alert viewers to make rulings. Unless video cameras are going to be placed on every group during every round and thus be part of the officiating process – God forbid – allowing the players on TV during the final rounds to be under far greater scrutiny because they're on TV is an injustice in my opinion.
You got this one wrong.
Another possibility in L’Affaire Lexi
I’m not a golfer. I don’t really watch golf. Mainly I just play it on my Xbox during my days off from work.
However, concerning the issue regarding Lexi Thompson (“4-stroke penalty stuns Thompson at ANA,” April 3, bit.ly/2nxsvFa), has anyone thought that maybe the individual who called in the penalty against her may have had a betting stake on the Thompson vs. So Yeon Ryu match and was betting against Thompson?
It’s something to think about when allowing viewers to call in a penalty against a pro golfer.
Carlos F. Valentine
Angel Fire, N.M.
Shot clock, yes; rangefinders, no
The notion of a greenside shot clock is brilliant; your other ideas on possible fixes for slow play were all on target (“If USGA and R&A really want to hasten play, try this,” May 2, http://bit.ly/2pGjzQx).
I do disagree with the theory that laser rangefinders speed up play, at least for the average amateur. In my experience, lasers largely are a nuisance. In many foursomes, two or three players have them and use them on every shot, often from as close as 30 or so yards. False readings are common.
With yardages available on sprinkler heads, 100-, 150- and 200-yard plates and yardage plates on par 3s, there is more than enough data already available for a hacker’s club selection. If I can’t step off paces from one of those sources, I don’t belong on the course.
Put the lasers in the closet and just hit the ball. You’ll probably top it, slice it or fat it anyway.
Royal Oak, Mich.
Penalize slow play
In regards to slow play: No shot clocks, no timing of each shot. Each group has specified amount of time to complete a round.
For example: a twosome has four hours to complete play. Give penalty shots to both players if they are not done in the allotted time. If players appeal the ruling for a reason such as we had to wait 15 minutes for a ruling, a decision would be made by the designated committee within minutes of signing cards.
Palm Harbor, Fla.
Suggestions to hasten play
If you want to improve the pace of play for amateurs, here are two suggestions:
Require every USGA course to have sticks or posts in the ground that designate 200, 150 and 100 yards from the green. A player simply looks up to get a very good estimate where he or she is on the course. If you don’t have a rangefinder, you still can make a good distance estimate using this simple visual tool.
Let’s stop this “cart path only” rule when it’s not necessary. Yes, I too want to protect wet areas and the fairways, but does it mean the entire course must be under the cart-path-only rule? Why not designate the holes that are soft to be cart-path only? Let’s be realistic and honest about when to apply this rule. It will speed up play.
One last thing: Educate players to write the score on the card at the next tee box. Don’t sit greenside and commiserate about your shots or your game. Move along and let someone else play.
Shorter courses would produce shorter rounds
You are certainly correct in your assertion that the USGA and especially the R&A tend to have their heads in the 19th century when it comes to rules and speeding up the game. But, there is a very logical change that, if made, would most certainly speed up play. Why does the mile run take longer to complete than a 100-yard dash? Obviously because one covers more distance than the other and therefore takes longer to complete.
Reduce the distance a golf ball can fly. Then reduce the length of golf courses. Playing a course of 5,000 yards in length would be, for a senior like myself, plenty long enough and would certainly take less time to traverse. For the touring professional, a course of 6,200-6,300 yards should be plenty long. Produce a ball that would make those lengths a challenge. It would reduce the time it takes to play the game and would reduce the cost of mowing and spraying thus saving course owners money.
Course owners might object that they would lose revenue because more people would choose to walk. Yes, a few might choose to walk, but not many. We have become accustomed to riding. And, I would bet that with the reduced time that an 18-hole round would take on shorter courses, more tee times would get filled, thus providing more revenue.
Jack Nicklaus is not wrong when he advocates for this very idea.
Lee “Kaz” Kaczmarek
While we’re young
If you want to see a prime example of how slow play affects the future of golf, just watch the kids' putting contest at the 2017 Drive, Chip and Putt.
It looked like a mini version of the pro tours as they knelt behind the ball, stalked the putting line from behind the hole, placed and replaced the marker, looked at the putt from the side of the line, took practice strokes perpendicular to the perceived line while still perusing the intended line of the putt, replacing the ball with the marker still behind the ball and looking at the putt from different angles, taking away the marker and finally standing to putt. And finally, after several more practice strokes, the ball was putted.
The only thing these kids didn't do was call their caddie over to look over the putt. All the rest was learned from watching and emulating the pro golfers.
As I watched these kids putting, I was struck by several things: I was glad I was not playing in the group behind these kids; this was a perfect time for the DC&P folks to address slow play at the get-togethers, before play began in Augusta; and how many kids and adults watched this exaggerated behavior and thought this was how you played golf.
If the pros would cut out all of that excessive preparation and just see the line and putt, they – and all of us amateurs – would no longer suffer through five-plus-hour rounds.
Theory simply doesn’t work
I couldn’t disagree with you more. The use of maps/mapping devices for green reading, in the course of competitive play, should be banned.
Yardage devices for the daily-fee player are fine; however, they still have not improved the pace of play. But once again, not for use in competitive play.
Technology in golf (balls/clubs, more precisely) has ruined the competitive game, and made many great venues near obsolete. We used to play with old rusted blades and persimmon woods in four hours, walking. Now it takes 4½ hours, minimum, despite all of this new technology at the hands of the daily-fee player.
Your theory might look good on paper but in reality is not working.
Missing in Mexico: Where is LPGA?
The LPGA was in Mexico with Lorena Ochoa, one of golf's classiest competitors hosting a match-play format, where the Jutanugarn sisters ended up pitted against each other; Michelle Wie won her first four matches; Lydia Ko, not eligible for the Solheim Cup, competed in a sanctioned match-play event; Cristie Kerr continued her high level of solid play; competitors from Canada, China, New Zealand, Sweden, France, Germany, England, the U.S., Korea, and Thailand advanced, and none of it was on TV.
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