From The Inbox

Timing is everything when enforcing golf's rules

To help ensure that all contenders near the top of the leaderboard undergo consistent scrutiny at a PGA Tour event, assign rules officials to the last 5 groups on the weekend, reader suggests

I don’t have a problem with calling a penalty on Jon Rahm for his ball moving during the final round of the Memorial Tournament (“2020 Memorial: Jon Rahm takes his lumps and wins anyway,” July 20). If it’s a rule, as ridiculous it may be, it’s still a rule. And I don’t have a problem with the leaders being more scrutinized than the rest of the field. Do you think the strike zone is the same for the Nationals vs. Dodgers as it is for the Marlins vs. Orioles?

What I do have a problem with is the timing of the infraction. Every other sport calls fouls or penalties when they occur. Golf calls them after the round is completed and sometimes the next day (see Lexi Thompson, 2017 ANA Inspiration).

Had Rahm been called for his infraction when it occurred, I think it could have significantly changed the outcome. First, his mindset would be much different hitting his fourth shot and up by three strokes, with Ryan Palmer having a makeable putt for 2. Second, Palmer would have had a different mindset, knowing that no matter what happens, he would pick up at least one shot and possibly four.

People who say it had no effect on the outcome because Rahm won by three strokes don’t know what they’re talking about (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 21, July 22, July 23). It’s a weak defense for their decision.

There’s a solution. Put a rules official with the last five groups for the last two rounds. If someone outside of those groups gets hot, send an alternate. The rules official then officiates the round. If he/she sees a violation, it could be called immediately. If a player sees a violation that the official doesn’t, the official can use TV as “instant replay.” The penalty then would be called before the next shot is hit. Once that shot is hit, case closed.

Rules officials’ performances can be graded by PGA Tour headquarters just as officials and umpires are graded in other professional sports. If an official is routinely given low grades, that official could be taken out of the rotation.

But before the Tour can do that, it would need to get its officials in better physical shape, because they would need to walk with the players.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

If there’s no ‘discernible advantage,’ don’t penalize golfer
I have read all of the excellent comments on the ruling related to Jon Rahm’s ball “moving” on the 16th hole of the final round of Sunday’s Memorial Tournament (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 21, July 22, July 23).

Though I concur with the overwhelming opinion that assessing a penalty using a TV closeup is unreasonable, I think reader John Donovan‘s comment was on target (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 22). If no “discernable advantage” occurred, then no penalty should be assessed.

Gordon Williams
Ellsworth, Ohio

Here’s an idea that golf retailers could get behind
Most of the talk about, first, Tiger Woods and, now, Bryson DeChambeau and the associated distances to which they have taken the game revolved around how to rein it in and how to use the ball as the neutralizer. This has been met with all kinds of pushback from the average golfer who wants to be playing the same ball as the pros, but not one that is distance-limited. I’d suggest another, perhaps more radical approach be considered: the clubs.

Given all the money involved, it’s assumed that most anyone on the PGA Tour is playing with clubs not available in any retail outlet, except perhaps a putter here or there. I’d argue that the clubs have had a bigger impact on distance than the ball for the pro player. What if the PGA Tour bodies were to mandate that all clubs had to be “off the rack,” with minimal adjustments, such as a little tape on the grip? Wouldn’t it be fun to know that Dustin Johnson is playing the same driver I bought last week at Dick’s Sporting Goods? In order to prevent prototypes being sneaked in as the next new model or making the pro versions exorbitantly expensive, the rules could stipulate that clubs would be certified for use only once they had hit certain sales volumes.

Now that would level the playing field.

Ron Ariana
Chicago

Don’t touch the golf ball
Kudos to reader Blaine Walker for pointing out the obvious: ball and course length are applicable to 1 percent (or less) of golfers (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 23). Though Jack Nicklaus is entertaining and charitable, he is addressing the great minority about ball distance and cares squat for 10-plus-handicap golfers.

Officialdom, leave the golf ball alone.

Kitty Russell
Houston

Seeking a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist
As reader Blaine Walker’s letter pointed out, the USGA and R&A have a myopic view of the ball controversy (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 23). Their focus on the professionals’ prodigious length is ignoring the 99 percent of golfers who have no problem with how far the ball travels.

With all due respect to Jack Nicklaus, he won a few tournaments in his day by being a long hitter. Yes, different era and different ball, but hitting the ball far was OK for him then.

It appears as if the professional golfers are OK with the ball. Amateurs are OK with the ball. The PGA Tour must be OK with the ball, as it presents course setups that promote the long ball.

So, who are the prestigious ruling bodies trying to please?

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

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