Question: Should viewers continue to be permitted to influence the outcome of a professional golf tournament by calling in potential rules infractions that they think they’ve witnessed while watching the live televised coverage at home?
A majority of the people I’ve personally discussed this issue with over the years seem to think viewers shouldn’t be calling in and reporting potential rules breaches, but it’s a practice that isn’t likely to be going away anytime soon.
Obviously the incident with Tiger a few weeks ago at the BMW Championship, which mind you had nothing to do with viewers calling in but rather the use of HD digital video technology, has put this issue front and center again. Maybe the time has finally come to figure out what roles, if any, that viewers and technology itself should be playing in the game.
“It feels awkward when it happens,” said Finchem about the Woods incident, which only came to light because a PGA Tour camera crew was filming the golfer. “On the other hand, I hate to say it’s part of the tradition of the game because actually you can’t really argue that because it’s changed with the degree of television we have. I think we need to do some more thinking about it. I think people in the game need to think about it.”
As far as video technology goes, the only opinion I can personally offer is that if a player has breached a rule and the incident in question is captured on video – the tournament rules committee obviously needs to know about it. To spot a potential rules violation but say nothing, in the end, isn’t protecting the field and certainly isn’t in the best interests of our sport.
And the same could be said about viewer call-ins, as much as I loathe the practice in principle.
The bottom line is this: in this 24/7 world of media/social media we live in today, nothing goes unreported. The absolute last thing the tour needs is a ruling controversy surfacing after an event has officially ended, which then brings into question the most fundamental principle governing our game – integrity. I don’t have a solution, but it would seem to this fan that a good starting point would be to assign a crew of rules officials to scrutinize every last second of televised coverage being aired each and every round played.
Beyond that, the player is responsible for knowing and understanding the rules. They are professionals after all, they get paid quite handsomely. It’s not asking too much for them to know how to play the game according to the rules that govern it. A two-pronged approach that involves both the PGA Tour removing the need for the viewer call-ins, as well as the players themselves showing enough competency to proceed under basic rules procedures?
It seems like a win-win to me.