(Brant Kasbohm is a licensed PGA teaching professional and Director of Instruction at FixYourGame.com, an online golf lesson service. He also contributes content to ChicagoDuffer.com on an occasional basis.)
At 2011’s first PGA Tour Event, Camillo Villegas was DQ’d for a rules violation that was spotted by a viewer on TV, who then tweeted it to the PGA Tour. Upon reviewing the tape, the PGA Tour determined a rule had been violated, and Villegas was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard. While it was clearly a violation of the rules, something has to be done to prevent situations like this from happening. Here are my ideas from preventing similar situations from happening.
1. Have a rules official with every group. On Thursday & Friday, most Tour events have about 150 players in threesomes, so about 50 officials would be needed. If qualified officials can’t be found locally, then the Tour should hire full time officials to travel to the events weekly. This would provide a rules expert in every group, and should help speed up play when rulings are needed.
2. Eliminate the requirement that players carry an “Official Scorecard”. At PGA Tour Events, there are numerous scoreboards, walking standard bearers with each group and real time scoring online & on TV & radio. Having a player carry a scorecard can only hurt them. In the Villegas case, he was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard, not for the rules infraction. Not one person (Villegas, fellow competitors, spectators, rules officials, etc.) thought has scorecard was incorrect at the time. Removing the scorecard requirement would have allowed the PGA Tour to assess Villegas a two-stroke penalty to his score without disqualifying him. And I think this would’ve been the fairest resolution to this case.
3. Allow TV viewers to phone / tweet / email in any suspected rules violations, but have a deadline for any penalties be at the end of the player’s round. This means that basically there is a statute of limitations on fan input for rules violations. So if a violation is found after the player’s putt on 18 is holed, it is not enforced. (Side note—I believe that most players, in keeping with the high level of sportsmanship on Tour and in golf, would DQ themselves, or withdraw if a rules violation was brought to their attention after the round is over.) If the rules official does not catch a violation, then viewers have until the end of that player’s round to notify the Tour.
By having these three policies, the PGA Tour would still allow for fan interaction and input (which is good), remove the burden of scoring from the player (with modern technology, is completely unnecessary), and hopefully allow for a fairer resolution to incidents like what happened to Camillo Villegas. These are all reasonable, easy to implement solutions that will help the players, and promote fan interaction.
What do you think?
PGA Director of Instruction