January 22, 2011

"Using the observations of television viewers sitting at home does not seem the right way to proceed in a professional sport": The BBC's Iain Carter reflects on Padraig Harrington's disqualification at this week's Abu Dhabi International, thanks to an eagle-eyed snitch TV viewer who emailed the European Tour website to alert referees that the golfer had inadvertently moved his ball when replacing it. Some pros are less than impressed, too.

posted by etagloh to golf at 06:22 PM - 8 comments

The problem here is the disqualification of a player who signs for an incorrect score with no way of knowing he'd incurred a penalty, not the fact that TV viewers can report infractions.

posted by rcade at 07:52 PM on January 22, 2011

Yeah, with all apologies to JJ and others, the problem is that the rules are stupid and archaic.

posted by hincandenza at 07:58 PM on January 22, 2011

Assess the two stroke penalty, and move on. Although, I'd be fine with some sort of a steward's warning being issued and no penalty for cases where an on course official did not catch the violation.

"No putt was ever made longer by someone marking their ball" Leslie Nielson

posted by dviking at 09:24 PM on January 22, 2011

It seems pretty unfair that popular players are going to be penalized more because their inadvertent violations appear on the video feed.

posted by bperk at 10:51 PM on January 22, 2011

Yeah, I'd have to agree that it seems unfair if it took a slow-motion replay to catch the movement.

posted by Fence at 02:27 PM on January 24, 2011

Is there a hotline for minute inadvertent infractions that are only perceptible in HD and slow motion? Do they advertise this number during tournaments?

If I'm attending a tournament and capture such an infraction with the camera in my phone, can I show that to tournament officials so they can lay down the banhammer on some unsuspecting schmuck?

posted by bender at 03:04 PM on January 24, 2011

Yeah, with all apologies to JJ and others, the problem is that the rules are stupid and archaic.

Please never apologise to me for stating facts. The problem with the rules is that they started as some very simple "just get on with it" type directives, but over the years as various incidences have arisen, the rulemakers have just slapped layer after layer of "refinement" over the top until we have the current 150 pages of barely understandable legalese. My father is a qualified R&A referee. He got 98.5% in the three-hour written exam he had to do a few years ago, and has enough experience now at amateur and professional level that he's hoping he might get to do a major soon. In short, you'd like to think he knows the rules, but even he has to carry the book with him when he plays (and especially when he referees) and has to refer to it far more often than you'd think to be entirely sure.

For my money, that's daft. Refinement should mean simplification, not just further layers of exceptions and by-laws. The rules are there to make the game as fair as possible, but at some basic level, the game will always be fair no matter what rules are used just as long as the same rules apply to everyone in the field.

In a week when golf got a bit of a hard time for banning Elliot Saltman for only three months (for replacing his ball incorrectly on the green numerous times in order to deliberately gain an advantage) the very last thing the game needed was to be seen to come down like a ton of bricks on a three-time major champion, who had just been made an R&A ambassador, for accidentally breaking a rule he didn't know he'd broken.

It adds plenty of fuel to the fire of those journalists (and others) who wonder how golf can be so harsh on those who break the rules by accident and seem to gain nothing from doing so, and at the same time be so willing to cover up the inevitable fact that many golfers deliberately cheat every single week on the various tours around the world.

I love the game. I have less love for those tasked with looking after it. They're mostly asleep at the wheel.

What a great week it should have been for European golf! Kaymer won his third Abu Dhabi title in four years and is now -80 for the last 16 rounds he's played there. Not since Rommel has a German performed so dominantly in the desert. He climbed up to number 2 in the world (nudging Tiger down to 3) and in the same week, McDowell slipped past Big Phil into 4th place and Rory returned to the top ten (7th). It should have been a week of writing about a changing of the guard, about the younger players coming through and deposing the old kings, but in the end we get to read more about the bloody rules.

posted by JJ at 04:08 AM on January 25, 2011

Good summary of the problem, jj. In the case at hand it would seem that someone in a remote site, with no way of immediately notifying the officials, and using an enhanced view of the play (slow motion in this case) should not be able to determine whether or not an infraction has occurred.

You should have to look at a few criteria to impose a penalty. First and foremost, did the player involved notice the infraction? Judging from what I have seen in the times I've been paying attention, I would say that in all cases if a player understands he has committed an infraction, he will report it. Sometimes a player will commit an error through misunderstanding or ignorance of a rule, and a failure to request an interpretation, but this is not a willful violation in my mind, even though it deserves whatever penalty is assessed. The next consideration is whether or not anyone else involved in the match, player or official, has noticed the infraction. If not, it should be assumed that the infraction is of such a minor character that it would have no bearing on the match. Moving one's ball by a few millimeters when marking it has very little chance of affecting the next stroke. Finally, has a spectator on the course seen the infraction? In this case, the spectator has the obligation to immediately contact an official and notify same of the problem. It will then be up to the official to take appropriate action, assessing a penalty if justified, and most importantly informing the player involved of the problem so he may take whatever action is needed. To have someone in a remote location make a belated report on something too imperceptible for those on the scene to notice should never be allowed.

posted by Howard_T at 03:56 PM on January 25, 2011

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.