Earlier this week golf’s major professional tours announced that starting in 2018 they are no longer going to allow viewers to call in and dictate possible rules violations they that saw on television broadcasts.
For the purists of the sport it is a big triumph, as well as for the game’s fans who never believed those parts of the rules should be litigated and enforced after the fact and definitely not by a person at home on the couch surfing with a remote who can ruin a player’s tournament with one phone call.
This decision vindicates the called-in penalty suffered by Lexi Thompson at the ANS Inspiration tournament this year that upset so many players and fans.
Starting next month, golf will have on-site video officials who are charged with playing the role of at home viewers and are to be the last line of defense to protect the rules of golf.
The part of the previous systems that was the worst was not that random fans were allowed to impact the proceedings adversely; it was that the playing field was never level.
Until every round of every player was television from start to finish, the old rules would affect those shown on camera much more often than their much less visible competitors.
Lexi Thompson Pleased With Changes
Thompson less than eight months ago was rocked by a caller who claimed she improperly marked her ball when on the green. The call in caused her two strokes for the violation and an additional two because of signing an incorrect scorecards. The four strokes played a huge part in her losing the tournament, which to make things worse was a major.
When she heard of the revised rule this week, Thompson tweeted that she applauded the R&A and USGA for a willingness to change the rules to address unfortunate situations which have come up on several occasions. In her case, she said she was thankful no other player is going to deal with a devastating outcome that she did.
Decision Praised by Many
Four three decades, since the famed call that disqualified Craig Stadler from the 1987 Andy Williams Open for kneeling on a towel, golf has allowed unaffected viewers to affect the possible outcome of million-dollar tournaments. That is why the announcement this week has been hailed as a big celebration of the long-awaited realization by the game that its self-enforcement is far better than an outsider calling in from afar.
Problems are sure to surface. When the time comes that a player honestly misses a violation and the on-site officials in the video room do no pick it up, someone watching is sure to start a storm of controversy by blasting it all over social media.
If that happens, it would be far less of a problem than ruining the tournament of a player 24 hours later and if you do not believe than just ask Lexi Thompson.