Golf is the only sport in the world where a television viewer can enforce the sport’s rules, a sad reality that became abundantly clear last week.
Lexi Thompson was the latest victim of golf’s officious, if not capricious, approach to administration. The truth is Lexi deserved a two shot penalty, but certainly not the terrible injustice of four. Golf is a game of rules, and like an accountant who excludes tax, a TOUR “license” demands an adherence to the full rigour of the law.
The validity of these rules is a separate discussion, and one being addressed by rule changes proposed for 2019; of course every fossil in the golfing community will need to be a jobsworth, and this takes time, especially when there’s only one pair of reading glasses in the St. Andrews’ tea room.
So we accept the first two shot penalty. But the second? Not on your life. How dare the LPGA give an invidious couch potato the power to change the outcome of a tournament. That’s a bit like asking a little league coach to umpire the World Series. Part of me wants to support this unique approach to administrative meritocracy–it’s inherently democratic to empower people, but at what cost? Like communism, it all sounds great until one tyrannical turd in the picnic basket makes us understand why Vladimir doesn’t want to trade his cow for Igor’s corn, and so the house of cards comes tumbling down.
The counterpoint to the Lexi conundrum is clear, the cameras only focus on tournament leaders and this exposes them to an unequal level of scrutiny. This is unfair for a sport that adopts a “one size fits all” approach to enforcing the rules. Another issue: when exactly is the cutoff point for audience intervention? Hours, days, weeks?
To elucidate this last issue I have chosen a sighting that dates back to 1987, a Masters tournament made famous by Greg Norman’s choke. Setting the scene: Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, and unknown local, Larry Mize, were in a three way playoff.
Norman finished runner-up in 1987 to one of the most famous shots in Masters history. But a recent video is suggesting Larry Mize should have never been in the playoff to start with. It would appear Mize performed an illegal drop on the 15th hole, a mistake that carries a one shot penalty. Thirty years on and Larry Mize should have been docked three shots–according to golf’s warped logic. I hope this illustrates a ridiculous rule and provides evidence to support the expedience with which it should be removed from golf and destroyed with fire. This was a facetious attempt to emphasise the backward nature of our sport, of course Larry is the 1987 Masters Champion.
“A ball to be dropped under the Rules must be dropped by the player himself,” Law 20, section 2, of the laws of golf states.
“He must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and drop it. If a ball is dropped by any other person or in any other manner and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.”
Mmm. Might as well place it from that height.
Thirty years on and Larry Mize should have been docked three shots–according to golf’s warped logic. I hope this illustrates a ridiculous rule and provides evidence to support the expedience with which it should be removed from golf and destroyed with fire. This was a facetious attempt to emphasise the backward nature of our sport, of course Larry is the 1987 Masters Champion.