For starters, I guess it was a pretty great tournament. I didn’t take the time to watch much more than a few minutes of the final round (for the most part, I got my updates from ESPN), but I’ll take everyone’s word for it. Lot’s of stories – a 14-year old makes the cut, Tiger’s two-stroke penalty, a dramatic playoff win…lots of stuff to talk about. But I don’t want to do that. Everyone is going to be talking about the obvious stuff. Instead, I have a couple of questions.
Let’s starts with the 14-year old. We’ve asked before if it’s good to have a kid playing in a tournament when a 16-year old played in the 2011 U.S. Open. But a 14-year old at The Masters? Are you kidding? This kid’s mother was packing his lunch and meanwhile he’s keeping pace with Phil Mickelson at Augusta! Great story, but my question is the same as it was two years ago – when a 14-year old is going stroke-for-stroke with some of the greats of the game, does that cheapen the sport or, at least, the tournament? Does it make you look at the pro’s with a little bit less respect?
My next two questions though involve the Tiger controversy. I’ll start with the ruling itself. So everyone was hung up on the “as closely as possible” part of the rule. The only real voice of reason I heard was from Curtis Strange when he said that as closely as possible could be determined as 6-8 inches – not 3-4 feet! I have to agree. When I hear “as closely as possible” I think “right beside.” So to stand 3-4 feet behind where your shot was, you’re opening up a can of worms. I mean, where is the “as closely as possible” line drawn? What if his original shot was on a downhill lie and he then dropped 3-4 feet back onto a flat part of the fairway? What then? Would that be fair? Would that be judged differently?
Even further…how is this giant loophole left open by the rule-makers? How can you leave something like that up to interpretation? If someone else did the same thing but moved 3-4 feet closer, is that the same? What if they moved 6-8 feet one way or the other? That certainly isn’t as close as possible either. But…that’s all up for debate I guess, right?
But the whole controversy brings me to another issue. Why is it that this day in age, with all of the officials, rangers, scorekeepers, etc. on the course that the player is responsible for keeping his own score? Granted, we all keep our own scores when we play, but this is the pros, man. Every professional sport has an official scorekeeper. Why not golf? A golfer is expected to sign his scorecard (in a designated area mind you) and remember the entire round? Why wouldn’t an official be doing that for him? This sport really needs to move out of the dark ages and update some of their rules. It’s just silly and leads to stupid controversies such as this that take away from the game itself.
And just on a side note…inputting a rule to protect the players who don’t know the rules is absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, is this a professional sport, or is it me and my buddies playing on a Sunday morning at the local muni? If you’re going to play the game, you’d better know the rules. Ignorance is not an excuse. In the NFL, if a player doesn’t know something he did is a penalty, do the refs say “Oh, you didn’t know? OK, well then instead of a 15-yard penalty it’ll just cost you five.” If an NBA player didn’t realized he traveled before hitting a layup, do they let him keep one of the two points? Of course not! The rule is enforced! They don’t implement another rule because the guy didn’t know!
We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – for a sport that shouldn’t be nearly as complicated as it is, the rule-makers sure do their best to make it that way. I mean, if you need to have a rule book, and then a separate book to, more or less, decipher the rule book…you have a problem. This all boils down to the reason I don’t carry, don’t own and have never even thumbed through the rules of golf…nor do I have any plans to do so. You could drive yourself nuts! Don’t drive yourself nuts – know the basics and play for fun.
Swing ’til you’re happy!