Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 10:23 PM

DQ'd - How to Work the System

In the aftermath of the DQ controversy at the Samsung World Championship, I’m still bewildered. In fact, I have serious doubts whether Wie committed a bad drop in the first place. Of all the Wie puns that have been coined over the last several years, “Wiediculous” seems to be the one most apropos in this case. All I know is that this incident is just another head-scratching rules fiasco that does nothing to dispel the notion that golf lacks all common sense. Other silly DQs within the last week include Paula Creamer for inadvertently switching clubs inter-round and Kevin Stadler for unknowingly carrying a bent club. Other sports must look at their odd sibling named Golf and just laugh. It wouldn’t surprise me if people concluded that golf was invented by a mental patient and is run by the Church of Scientology.

Much of the problem stems from golf being dictated by the most complicated rules of any sport. I actually know people who are more comfortable understanding Einstein’s Theories of Relativity than the rules of golf. Furthermore, golf is one of the few professional sports that is self-policing when it comes to rules conformance. There are no referees, umpires, or judges that oversee play. There are merely a handful of “rules officials” who are available to answer any rules-related questions posed by the players. As a result, golf rules enforcement depends largely upon each player’s personal integrity and knowledge of the rules. But golf doesn’t trust its players entirely. As it is currently structured, your everyday Joe may participate in rules enforcement as well. Any observer may inform an official about any suspected rules infraction that he may have witnessed. In turn, the incident in question may be reviewed and action taken, if needed. This is the mechanism that allowed Wie to be DQ’d.

I have several problems with the whole golf officiating system as it now stands. First, I think getting DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard is often overly harsh. I can understand getting DQ’d for knowingly signing an incorrect scorecard, but when it is done unknowingly, there should be some leniency.

Second, if golf is founded on the principle of personal integrity, then officials should trust the self-policing players who have access to rules officials. Outside assistance should not be allowed. If this is not acceptable, an alternative is to employ a team of referees to oversee every player on the course. As in other sports, these referees would regulate all play with their rulings final and not subject to change.

But the biggest beef that I have with the current system is the seemingly indefinite amount of time that a suspected infraction may be submitted for consideration. In the case of Wie’s incident, it was virtually a full day before Mr. Bamberger notified the officials (I have yet to hear a satisfactory reason why the dude waited so long). If a suspected rules infraction can be reviewable after a full day has passed, then why not a week, a month, or even a year? If I were Ken Venturi, I’d consider rekindling the Palmer controversy at the 1958 Masters. Using the Wie incident as a precedent, maybe he could find enough evidence to have Palmer DQ’d from the Masters, giving Venturi the Green Jacket!

Now you can only imagine the sheer pandemonium that could erupt from people exploiting the system. The opportunities in sports betting alone would be too great for some to pass up. Consider, for the moment, if a slightly different situation occurred at the Samsung. Let’s assume that everything were the same except that Wie tied Annika for the lead and both were far ahead of the pack after the 3rd round. The situation now is such that only either Wie or Sorenstam have a realistic chance to win the tournament. Someone, like Mr. Bamberger, who witnessed Wie commit a bad drop during the 3rd round, could wager a sizeable amount on Annika to win the tournament with minimal risk. If Annika beats Wie, the wager is won fair and square. However, if Wie beats Annika, the witness can simply alert officials of the rule infraction to DQ Wie and win the wager!

Unfortunately, most of deficiencies in golf officiating can’t be resolved overnight. But there is a partial solution that would alleviate some of the headaches - Simply require all suspected rule infractions to be submitted within an hour of the conclusion of the round. Any submissions after that time would be deemed not reviewable. If any suspected infractions are found to be valid, penalties could be assessed without incurring a DQ. If such a rule had been in affect at the Samsung, Wie’s alleged bad drop could have been addressed in a fair and timely manner without triggering a DQ. In the meantime, be sure to program the numbers of rules officials and bookies into your speed dial!

P.S. Word is going around that Mr. Bamberger will be releasing a new book in the coming weeks. Merely a coincidence?

Blogger kefguy said...

Actually, the "official" end of the tournament is considered the cutoff for submitting rules discrepancies in the LPGA. According to interviews on TGC, officials held up the official ending of the Samsung until they figured this out.

I agree that professional golf should figure out if golfers will keep policing themselves or if they should have refs/umps/lawyers/whatever out on the course.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it's unfair that anyone with an agenda can actually change the outcome of an event the way Bamberger did. He claims to have done this for the "integrity of the sport," but what about the "integrity of journalism"? First and foremost, he was there as a journalist, not as a rules official.

Getting Michelle DQ'd gives him a far bigger story to write about, doesn't it? And all that exposure is going to help his book sales (he has a book coming out in a couple of weeks). How Sports Illustrated allowed this to happen is beyond me.  


Blogger dave said...

Once again I enjoyed the post and agree with everything. I had to read the Church of Scientology thing to my wife. I actually ended up having her read the entire post.

I don't care what book he writes I just want to kick his butt where it counts, what a jerk and obvious (I just can't think of any word strong enough to label this slime ball). I won't even be buying the swimsuit issue this year. None of their shi allowed in this house.  


Blogger woundedduck said...

If I was a pro golfer, I would make sure my caddie could recite the rules chapter and verse. You would think a caddie would be more highly motivated to know the rules and eliminate the possibility of a DQ because his 10%--a much slimmer margin that his pro--is on the line. Why would Wie's caddie have let her drop it with such little margin for error? You can bet he won't let her make this mistake again--if he still has a job, that is.  


Blogger Miranda said...

It isn't just the caddie who could have said something. Didn't I hear that Michelle had to tell the pro she was paired with that she was taking a drop? I would think that golfer and her caddie could have said something if protecting the integrity of the sport was paramount in the minds of the LPGA. but apparently Michelle wasn't the only one to have issues with the officials in that tournament. I think I heard that Annika Sorenstam also had a lengthy discussion with one of them during one of her rounds. This leads me to think that officiating in general needs reviewed. My biggest issue is with the people who wait a a day or even two or three holes to bring up an alleged rules infraction. You don't see this in baseball- just a little while back there was a replay in one of the playoff games that showed a wrong call was made and no one went back and changed the score.  


Blogger Golf Grouch said...

The ruling bodies definitely need to do something so that such an incident never happens again. But this is golf. Once you patch this leak, another one is sure to spring.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I think Mr. Bamberger can buy up his own book. He won't sell one to me.  


Blogger Beware Before said...

Rules questions will always continue to be an issue in Golf, but any solutions should start with the players themselves. Many of the "controversies" could be avoided if the players took a greater interest in learning the rules of the sport in which they are "Professionals". Yes I understand that they can be confusing and up to interpretation. But a single weekend goes by when we have to sit and wait for rules official to help a player with the simple task of taking relief from a cart path or sprinkler head. People may feel it harsh but Michele Wie was at fault, if you don't want arm chair rules officials resulting in your DQ, then learn the rules. That also goes for knowing that you can not change clubs during a stipulated round and that you can not play with a club that has been bent. Regarding signing of the scorecard, I realize that the penalty seems harsh, but if you look at it from a different perspective and that when these players finish their round all that is asked of them is that they sign their scorecard and that they make sure that the hole by hole score is correct, (they are not required to add it up) are we really asking too much?  


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