Playing by the Rules - May 2013

Last month I wrote about how I hated the fact that people, watching television at home, could have such influence on a golf tournament that is going on thousands of miles away from where they are. What I did not realize when I was writing it was that very issue, would once again cause all sorts of problems and, for The Masters no less.

I am going to keep this short and to the point, I have been asked for my opinion (I think the current term we use is “my phone blew up” with texts, calls, etc.) on what happened at the 15th hole on Friday at Augusta this year, and how it was handled.

First, let me say, these opinions are strictly my own and do not represent the thoughts or opinions of the NEPGA or The PGA of America, they are all mine and many of the people I have shared them with have disagreed with me.

That said, here we go.

Do I think the final decision by the Committee was correct?

Answer: Yes

Reason: The Committee made an error by not asking Woods, in the scoring area after the round and before he had signed his scorecard, what procedure he had followed while making his drop at the 15th hole. This is not an unusual situation, in fact according to a couple of friends of mine who work on the PGA Tour in a Rules capacity, this very scenario plays out several times a year. Something out of the ordinary is seen or witnessed by spectators on the golf course and brought to the Rules Committees attention. They simply ask the player, sometimes during the round, but usually after the round, in the scoring area, what exactly he did on the specific hole in question and then make a decision if anything needs to be reviewed or investigated further and then proceed accordingly. If penalties are involved, the player simply changes his score for the hole where the violation occurred, signs his scorecard for the proper number of strokes taken, and that is that. As we all know, this did not happen at Augusta.

Do I think Tiger should have withdrawn after the Committee told him they were going to penalize him two-strokes rather than disqualify him?

Answer: No

Reason: You can form your own opinion of Tiger as a person, player, whatever. However, one thing I am quite sure of is, the man plays golf by the Rules. He, in simple terms, had a momentary “brain cramp” and confused the relief procedure he was entitled to use in taking his drop.

The Committee admitted it made a mistake by not giving Tiger the opportunity to explain what he had done, and by doing so acknowledged they had deprived him of a chance to make the correction to the number of strokes taken for the 15th hole, causing him to sign for a score that did not include the two-stroke penalty.


Do I think Tiger deliberately violated a Rule, AKA “cheated”

Answer: PLEASE, be serious, not a chance.

Reason: See my thoughts above, AKA “brain cramp”.

Did the Masters Committee not disqualify the player, because the player was Tiger Woods?


Reason: The Rules Committee had earlier in the day penalized a young man one stroke for slow play, a young man who had received almost as much coverage as Tiger and who had been embraced by everyone watching and covering the tournament.

Disqualifying Tiger or a imposing a slow play penalty for Guan Tianlang is not going to
change the way The Masters is perceived or its place in the world of golf. The
tournament is much bigger and more important than any one individual and would never
risk its reputation by doing something as silly as that.

So, those are my thoughts, what are yours? As always, I ask you to share them with me. Drop me an email and let me know what you think or if you have any other questions about anything specific to this situation let me know.

See you down the road,


PS-While you are emailing me your thoughts on the above, let me know if there is anything in particular, Rules, course marking, course set-up etc. that you would like me to address in this space during the year.