Golf calls time on the armchair busybodies
Golf's armchair busybodies could be facing extinction following news that the sport is set to introduce TMO technology in the new year.
A working group for the game led by The R&A and the US Golf Association (USGA) has agreed to bring in new video review protocols, meaning that the reports of pedantic TV fans will no longer be taken into consideration from 1 January 2018.
Golf's governing bodies along with the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and The PGA of America are all involved in the working group.
Information on The R&A website states that only footage that has been obtained by the committee’s broadcast partner will be used in these situations. Videos from a person's phone or camera, will not be eligible.
The work of armchair vigilantes caused controversy earlier this year, when Lexis Thompson was hit with a four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration.
In an email to LGPA officials, a viewer said that Thompson incorrectly replaced her ball marker on the 17th hole in the third round, which led to her dropping two shots off the leader. She ultimately lost out in the play-off.
Padraig Harrington has also been a victim of such TV Golf fans.
"I looked down at the time and was pretty sure it had just oscillated and had not moved"
In the 2011 Abu Dhabi Championship, Harrington was told that officials had received two emails from viewers claiming that he brushed his ball forward while picking up a marker. Video footage confirmed as much, and although it was unintentional, the interference of the viewers resulted in him getting disqualified.
"I was aware I hit the ball picking up my coin. I looked down at the time and was pretty sure it had just oscillated and had not moved, so I continued on," said Harrington at the time.
"In slow motion it's pretty clear the ball has moved three dimples forward and it's come back maybe a dimple and a half."
Additionally, a new local rule will also be introduced, which will see the removal of the additional two-stroke penalty for failing to include a penalty on the score card when the player was unaware of the penalty.
This local rule will be permanently removed when the modernised Rules of Golf take effect on 1 January 2019.
Speaking about the impending changes, David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A explained that they felt it was important to address this issue fully ahead of the implementation of the updated rules in 2019.
"We have concluded that whilst players should continue to be penalised for all breaches of the Rules during a competition, including any that come to light after the score card is returned, an additional penalty for the score card error is not required."