Hey Golf Fans, You're Not Part of the Game
If you haven't heard, Camillo Villegas was disqualified from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions because of violating rule 23-1 which states, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed". The penalty for this is two-strokes unless you have already signed your scorecard, which Villegas did, then it's a disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Image by Roozbeh Rokni via Flickr
What makes this situation outstanding is the violation was not noticed by Villegas, his caddie, a rules official or even a fan standing near Villegas watching. The rule was pointed out by a fan at home watching the tournament. The fan decided to "Tweet" about it to a few select people including the PGA TOUR who eventually reviewed the tape and ultimately decided it was a penalty. I believe this was the right call based on the rule but it's how we got to this conclusion that bothers me.
Why Fans Are Not Part of The Game
- A fan is not part of the game. At what point did we as fans become part of the game? Every sport makes it a point to remind fans they are not officials, players or coaches. We are simply people who love the sport and enjoy watching it. If we could play it, we would. We can't, so we watch. Our only connection to the game is our passion and respect for what these guys do. That's why we spend money to watch them play. We are fans.
- I'm guessing rules officials or anyone directly involved in a tournament is not allowed to bet on the sport. How do we know the fan calling in doesn't have a bias against the player for some reason. Did he make a wager on the round which and this would impact his bet? Fans have this luxury, rules officials don't. The PGA TOUR can not rely on fans to do their work.
- There is an obvious delay from the time a fan can report something to the time it is relayed to the player or rules officials. In hockey or football, when a play is reviewed it's done before the next play occurs. The impact on the game is immediate. This violation, which occurred on hole 15, was not brought to the attention of Villegas until Friday long after he signed his scorecard making it official. Had he been notified immediately, he would have been penalized two strokes and I would be writing about something else today. Is there no limit on when we can penalize someone? Can I watch tapes of every US Open for the past 10 years and look for a violation, call it in to the USGA and have them take back a trophy or money? Give me a break.