Blog Entry

Rules decisions that clearly don't Rock

Posted on: July 29, 2010 12:00 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 12:27 pm
For civilians who enjoy the game mostly from the comfy confines of their couches, D.Q. is mostly shorthand for Dairy Queen.

For tournament golfers, it's a red flag that means somebody screwed up royally and has been given a spiked foot in the rear end: Disqualified for a rules infraction.

That's what happened to England's surging Robert Rock in the first round of the European Tour's Irish Open on Thursday, moments after he signed for a 65 that gave him the clubhouse lead.

Rock, who finished second at the Irish Open last year and had a stellar T7 finish at the British Open two weeks ago at St. Andrews, was kicked to the curb for signing an incorrect scorecard. The new wrinkle here is that the numbers weren't wrong, just out of order when he mistakenly transposed scores on consecutive holes.

In this day and age, we should generally applaud anything that clings to the vestiges of tradition. But in an era of electronic scoring and gazillion-dollar purses, blowing a guy out the door for such a minor infraction -- no advantage was gained and the round was complete -- seems unfairly punitive.

On the PGA Tour, each group is accompanied by a roving volunteer scorekeeper, armed with an electronic device that beams scores for that particular pairing to a mainframe computer. Thus, when player finishes, his hand-written scorecard is compared to the scores kept by a playing partner and those listed in the computer.

With all the modern computer firepower at hand, and given the vast sums of money and professional livelihoods at stake, should an unintentional, minor bookkeeping error enough to cost a guy a week's pay?

Rock didn't gain any advantage with the error, which might represent the most head-scratching ruling since veterans Mark Roe and Jesper Parnevik were booted from the British Open a few years back after signing for the proper scores, but while writing their numbers on the other man's scorecard.

Sure, it's the letter of the law. It's the player's responsibility. Sergio Garcia got DQd from the PGA Championship in Tulsa when Boo Weekley screwed up his score.

The focus ought to be, first and foremost, to get the totals right. Rock rightly signed for a 7-under 65, which hours later was still within one stroke of the outright lead. You could shrug it off as saying that the punishment doesn't fit the crime, but was there a crime committed at all?

What would be said if this happened to Tiger or Lefty?
Category: Golf

Since: Jun 12, 2007
Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:15 am

Rules decisions that clearly don't Rock

The walrus incident involves a rule about improving stance or "building" a stance. Not improving lie, that would mean he moved the ball which didnt happen. That particular rule is very important, if you ask me. Now the scorecard rule is ridiculous for the touring pros. But is enforced, lest we forget that amatuers at all levels still compete under the same rules. So the rule change should only apply to touring pros. But for amateur tournaments where there isnt a cpu carrying scorekeeper beaming results hole by hole to an electronic scoreboard, the rule is needed.

Since: Sep 2, 2008
Posted on: July 30, 2010 1:23 am

Rules decisions that clearly don't Rock

It always blows my mind when Stadler's "towel" incident is brought up.  What big deal is it to put a towel down under his knees and staying dry and be DQed or putting on his rain gear and then kneeling down and swinging with the pants on? One is legal and the other isn't.  None what so ever.  They say he was improving his lie, so what is putting on rain gear or whipping his hands on a towel or putting on a dry glove?  Give me a break, rules are rules if they mean something important.  Rock's score was his score, media, etc. didn't add or subtract the number of strokes he had, he was had by bone headed "golf purists" that still think everyone should wear nickers and play for a ginger ale.  This ain't chump change and gentlemen's game of "call your own penalties"!  If Kobe says he scored 39 points and he scored 40 doesn't mean he forfeits the game.  Hitting the ball is what counts and adding them up correctly, not dumb rules makes the game of golf what it is.  Change rules that are out dated, like Philadelphia used to have a law that prohibited an auto coming into town without honking first to warn the horses.  

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 7:52 pm

Rules decisions that clearly don't Rock

Forgot to mention that placing a towel under your knees to hit a shot from the ground is a rules violation.  Don't feel like looking it up and being technical, but essentially anything artificial like a towel that aids a player in hitting a shot is against the rules.

Let's hope the R&A and USGA sort these things out; unfortunately, I have a hunch that they LOVE being sticklers.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: July 29, 2010 7:43 pm

Rules decisions that clearly don't Rock

Steve, I can't agree more.
Given that (American) football, baseball, hockey, basketball and other sports are using technology, especially instant replay, to do their best to make the right calls as much as possible, golf should follow suit and use all the data-gathering power they can to get scores right and eliminate the signing of scorecard rule.  The only "tradition" of this rule is negative; the tragic consequences of players like Roberto DiVicenzo missing out on a Masters playoff, e.g.  It's not a good tradition like the Lions playing on Thanksgiving or something like that.

Moreover, I remember many, many times when the PGA Tour used television footage, often prompted by random viewers calling into the tournament site or broadcasting network, to report rules violations that NO ONE in attendance at the event recognized, players and officials included.  The one that first and foremost comes to mind is when Craig Stadler (I think at the LA Open at Riviera) in the late 80s-early 90s had a ball that was nestled under a tree.  The ground had been wet due to rain during the week, the Walrus was in contention and his caddie placed a towel on the ground for Craig to kneel on while he tried to punch his ball out from under the tree; swinging from his knees literally.

He went on to finish the round but got DQd later that night after Tour officials reviewed the tape.  Totally ridiculous that the Tour can enforce rules in such a way (and that particular case was eons before the Internet and the 24/7 news cycle) while the players can't get the same advantages when it comes to keeping their score.

The irony of course is that it will take more and more DQs based on incorrect cards to get enough outcry to change the rule.

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