This is not a debate on the rules of golf. We are not going to argue whether or not somebody should be penalized two strokes for moving one grain of sand in a bunker or even how the United States Golf Association communicates possible infractions with the players.
No, this debate centers around the practice of using video from television broadcasts of tournaments as a legitimate and fair way of determining whether or not a competitor has violated a rule.
For years now rules infractions have been detected through the T.V. screen, often with people watching at home calling into the tournament (how they get the number is a mystery) to report that somebody has violated one of the rules.
We have already had that debate so we’re not going to rehash it here.
What happened to Ana Nordqvist during the playoff with Brittany Lang at last month’s U.S. Women’s Open clearly showed a violation of the rules. That is not in question and when informed of the devastating news Nordqvist showed her true character by accepting it with grace and class.
But what about somebody who may have done the same thing on Thursday, somebody who was not on camera? As Hamlet once said, “Ah, there’s the rub.” Where is the level playing field if only select players are subject to video scrutiny?
If an Ana Nordqvist is to be penalized for grounding her club in a hazard only because it was later discovered only through video, shouldn’t Jane Doe also have every shot she takes videotaped?
Every shot Tiger Woods ever took is probably on video. I doubt that can be said of Ricky Barnes.
In other sports that have video replay every play and every player is subject to the same system. It is built into the rules.
Golf has no such official policy. The players are expected to police themselves but there are times when the player has no idea that they may have violated a rule.
Now one could argue that every round of every tournament on the major tours are televised and therefore have video evidence, but that simply is not the case.
We all know that there are many players who are seldom shown during telecasts and often players perform before the cameras are even turned on. Now while this is unlikely to effect who wins and who loses a tournament it can determine who makes the cut and who doesn’t, who keeps their card and who doesn’t.
Many years ago Billy Andrade lost his card because he finished $5.00 out of the top 125 players on the PGA Tour. What’s to say that the person who finished that sawbuck ahead of Andrade inadvertently violated a rule earlier in the year, but was not penalized because nobody saw it and it was not on video? Often that’s the difference.
That’s my point. Either every player should be subject to video review or none should.
We all know that the only similarity between the words “golf” and “fair” is that they have the same number of letters, but what we expect from all of our sports is that the playing field be the same for everyone.
Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer whose swing has been videotaped several times and then burned.