Playing by the Rules - June 2013

Like Yogi says “Déjà vu all over again”
First, let me reiterate, these opinions are strictly my own and do not represent the thoughts or opinions of the NEPGA or the PGA of America.
Once again, an image on a television screen is being used by some to try to determine whether a ball was dropped on the proper spot.
Again, I will say that by my way of thinking, you cannot always believe what you see on a television screen. Camera angles distort things.
Of course, I am talking about the drop that Tiger Woods took on the 14th hole at TPC-Sawgrass on his way to winning the Players Championship.
The reason I wanted to discuss this is not so I can complain about my pet peeve of people calling in Rules violations from their couch. It is the fact that the way the whole incident was handled, in my opinion, was correct, despite what anyone in the television booth said or anyone tweeted.
As I have stated before I want make it perfectly clear that I don’t care if it was Tiger Woods or David Woods who was involved in making the drop. It doesn’t matter; the question is how do we go about determining the spot the player must use to determine where to drop the ball when proceeding under Rule 26-1.
If a player and his fellow-competitor agree that the ball crossed the margin of the water hazard at a specific point then THAT SPOT is THE SPOT that the player will use as his reference point.
In the situation at the Players, Woods fellow-competitor and his caddy all agreed that the spot Tiger dropped at was the correct spot. At that point, it is end of story, game over, deal done.
If there had been some question on the part of Casey Wittenberg, his caddie, a spectator, anyone, there would be grounds for asking some questions to help determine where the ball may have last crossed the margin of the hazard. In this case, there was not, so drop the ball and get on with it.
While this incident certainly didn’t spark the controversy of the Masters incident, it did cause some people to question what had happened and ask why NBC wasn’t showing the replay to prove that the point where the drop was made was incorrect.
Thankfully, from my perspective anyway, that didn’t happen. Why do I feel this way? Because my belief is that, the people who play the game, do so within those Rules.
Trust me on this, at our events I spend at least eight to ten hours on the golf course while you guys are playing. During that time I, witness players taking drops, unless I have direct knowledge (the ball happened to bounce into a pond right next to where my cart was parked) I never try to interject myself into how a certain player/group is proceeding when taking their relief.
Why do I handle these situations this way? Because the players involved are the best judges as to where the ball has last crossed a margin and where the player should take his relief.
As a player, you are responsible for what you do during a round, at the same time in stroke play events you are also responsible for protecting the field if you feel someone else in the competition has not played the game according to the Rules of Golf.
As an official, once the players involved agree on a course of action, I would not question or try and make myself part of the discussion unless I felt they did not know the specific Rule or I was virtually certain that they were proceeding from an incorrect spot, i.e. I saw the ball enter the hazard from close proximity.    
I need to emphasize as uncomfortable and as unpleasant it may be sometimes, if you see a fellow-competitor do something questionable, you need to address it with that player (hopefully as soon as you witness it to help avoid any penalties) and if there is an issue with the Committee as well.. If you don’t, you are also not playing by the Rules.
So, those are my thoughts, feel free to share yours?
Lastly, I am writing this a day after the USGA/R&A have released their statement on banning “anchoring” of the putter. I want to take some time to think about what this all means and what other issues this may bring up. I have heard everything from player lawsuits to certain Tours making their own Rules that would allow the anchored stroke to be used. I don’t want to discuss rumors, so I think waiting until next month and seeing what happens in the interim, before sharing my thoughts, makes more sense. Email me your thoughts on the above if you’d like, I’d love to see them.
See you down the road,