There are times when governments or governing bodies announcing that they’ve struck a working committee to further study an issue with a decision to be made later is justified and other times when it’s just plain cringe-worthy, worthy of nothing but an eye roll.
The latter is the case, at least from here, after the R&A and USGA dealt with their latest struggle with technology, only this time it had nothing to do with golf equipment or golf balls.
Last week’s announcement was meant to limit the use of video evidence in the game, effective immediately. You can get the specifics here.
Note the term “effective imediately” in last week’s decision because it doesn’t apply to the use of information from other sources, mostly fans or observers, when it comes to applying penalties.
That’s where it goes beyond video to other technology, namely the e-mails, social media or phone calls some person at home in front of the tube might use to report something he or she saw.
The most recent incident that led to the revelation that video picks up more than the human eye – be it through slow-mo, camera angles or close-ups – involved Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the season for the LPGA Tour.
In the fourth and final round, Thompson was walking off the 12th green with a two-shot lead when she was informed that she was being penalized four strokes, two for misplacing her ball on the 17th green the day before and two for signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round. A viewer had sent in an e-mail about the infraction.
Despite being upset, Thompson fought valiantly before losing in a playoff. In a press conference at last week’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, it was obvious that she is still understandably emotional about the incident weeks later.
There are some who say that video may one day taint a victory if it shows the winner committing an infraction, but on the other hand, So Yeon Ryu’s eventual victory at the ANA Inspiration will, as unfair as it is to her because she did nothing, will be forgotten in the controversy surrounding Thompson.
The fact is that no other sport allows fans or observers to determine the outcome of a competition, which was the case in the Thompson affair. Even if they don’t eliminate phone-ins or e-mails, at the very least, a statute of limitations is needed, most likely when a players scorecard is accepted by tournament officials at the end of the round.
Whatever side you come down on in this issue, it appears that the R&A and USGA have a cut-and-dried decision, not an occasion to get together with reps from the PGA, LPGA, European and Ladies European Tours and the PGA of America to discuss the situation.
What do you think? Are the R&A and USGA dragging their heels on a decision in this case? That’s the topic of this week’s GNN Poll.
You can vote below or on the GNN home page and feel free to offer your thoughts in the Comments section below.