Golf vs. Viewers

Tiffany Nelson
Director of Business Development
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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Can you believe what happened to Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship? Even when he had a Rules official with him in his group, who didn’t mention anything, it was an off-duty Rules official that brought it to their attention while watching it on TV.  

Same week, it then happened to Juli Inkster at the Safeway Classic, when a viewer emailed the Safeway officials saying that Juli used her weighted training aid during a 30-minute delay on No. 10 tee to keep loose in the middle of her round.  

Is this fair? Is it fair for viewers to be able to call penalties on golfers? Golf is known for it’s honesty and golfers calling penalties on themselves. Or, is it just unlucky that the camera happens to be on that particular golfer at that particular time? Can you imagine what violations would be called if a camera was on every golfer all the time?  

In the case of Johnson, that was his and his caddies’ fault. They had the Rules sheet and it was posted all over the locker room. Not that I don’t think 90% of the field would have done the same thing as Johnson. Inkster, it is in violation of the Rules, but according to her official statement it had no effect on her game whatsoever. Did she know this was in violation? I think she truly didn’t know, otherwise she wouldn’t have jeopardized getting disqualified when she was tied for second. Why would you even carry that training aid in your bag if you can’t use it during play? No reason to, in my mind.  

My question to you is – is it fair that viewers can call these penalties? You and I can’t call or email into the NBA or MLB or NFL and call a foul/penalty on one of the players. So, I don’t think it’s fair for the viewers to be able to call a foul on the professional golfers playing during a tournament. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – all those other sports have replays – if it’s instant or not – they can go back and look at the play. Whether anything is done about it or not is up to the umpire/referees. In the case of baseball and throwing the perfect game (Galarraga) or not may come down to replay but nothing can be done about that now.  

However with golf, not every play is on camera, unlike all the other sports. Golf only covers the leaders and Tiger, of course, even when he’s not in the lead. So, you’re scrutinizing the leaders with the camera and every shot they take to an unfair advantage, but if someone from behind is playing well and gets to the front, we will never see those shots he took in the beginning because he wasn’t at the top of the leaderboard.

Well, viewers aren’t going to stop calling into the PGA/LPGA to call violations on golfers, so maybe we’ll see the professional golfers calling Rules officials over more often to make sure they aren’t breaking any of the Rules. It was two very unfortunate situations and hopefully it’s a trend that won’t continue.

Tiffany Nelson is Director Business Development at TPC Scottsdale/ PGA TOUR located at 17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255. You can reach her at 480.585.4334, ext. 226. Follow TPC Scottsdale on Facebook (The TPC Scottsdale) and on Twitter and keep up with all the action!