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An opposition to call-in rules violations

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A question for the philosophers: if a golf ball moves so short a distance that no one in that ball’s owner’s threesome can be certain whether it moved or not, did it move? Is there a penalty?

Is there a penalty if there is virtually no one standing in that area because the players in the group? Is there a penalty if the ball in question belongs to tournament leader Tiger Woods, whose every shot is televised and, therefore, scrutinized above all others?

Is it not the case that the television broadcast shows only a tiny fraction of all of the golf shots hit in a given day of competition? Is it not also the case that a small fraction of competitive rounds of golf encounter such potential infractions?

If a handful of hard-to-call rules violations occur over a given year on television, how many more occur in the groups elsewhere on the golf course? How many possible transgressors of the Rules are penalized? How many cannot, along with the others in their group, determine well enough that something untoward happened and thus proceed unpenalized?

Consider a viewer at home, who loves golf (as we all do) and regards it as the most inherently just of all sports (as we all should). Does he have an obligation to use whatever connections he has to inform the tournament organizers that a rules violation has occurred? Should he have the power to potentially affect the outcome of a PGA Tour event by virtue of his cable subscription.

Does this mean a PGA Tour event’s normal complement of rules officials—who know much, much more about the sometimes obtuse Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf than the average home viewer—is insufficient? Certainly the viewer at home only wants to see justice done as often as possible, but does this desire forsake the view of the proverbial forest for an intense eye on a few particular trees?

Which scenario is more “fair?”

  • That six possible (i.e. indeterminate without slow-motion high-definition cameras) Rules violations occur with a total of zero penalties assessed, or
  • That six such possible violations occur but one of them results in a penalty because it was the only one viewable on television? Is this the price the leader or Tiger Woods pays for playing better than most everyone else in the field? Should they pay it?

Tiger-Woods-Cheating-BMW-Championship

Above: Video shot by a freelance videographer was the basis of Tiger Woods’ 2-shot penalty at the BMW Championship. Tiger argued that his ball “oscillated” when he removed loose impediments around his ball, but the video evidence convinced PGA Tour rules officials that there was movement. 

Click here to read more about Tiger’s 2-shot penalty at the BMW Championship.

Not every possible Rules infraction results in a penalty. Indeed, some incidents that should be penalized ultimately are not, through myriad factors, from player and caddie uncertainty to rules official misinterpretation. Golf’s practice of self-policing is one of its great virtues, but the presence of rules officials is necessary for resolving some especially murky situations. But aren’t those rules officials fallible themselves? The fact is that there is a human element in golf that sometimes keeps the objective happenings from being reflected on a scorecard.

Does this murkiness injure the game? If so, does it not follow that the television audience should be able to potentially assist the tournament staff and rules officials in the execution of those Rules? Is golf reduced in standards to a level equal with baseball and football if the on-site refereeing sometimes fails to deliver justice? That couldn’t be—even though the system is not perfect, the self-policing aspect of golf will forever set it apart from sports where attempts to manipulate and mislead officials are part of the culture.

Charles Howell was robbed of a tournament victory when his shot once struck the pin and careened into a pond. T.C. Chen’s horrid lie caused him to double-hit a pitch shot and cost him a chance to win the U.S. Open. These are just two of countless turns of events in golf that comprise the concept of “rub of the green,” which is a central principle of the game. So, why is it unreasonable to consider the occasional missed penalty part of the rub of the green? Are these “missed calls” so pervasive that it becomes necessary to disrupt the game in order to ameliorate a fraction of a relative rarity in the competitive game? No.

Golf’s governing bodies: stand by your rules officials. Honor their extensive training and expertise. If an armchair arbiter is on the line, let it go to voicemail.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

61 Comments

61 Comments

  1. BJ

    Sep 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Many people question Tiger’s character or integrity because of what happened in his personal life, I doubt that Woods is the only guy on tour to commit such transgressions, but we never hear about them. I also have a hard time believing that other golfers don’t make questionable rules interpretations in their own favor, despite the “honor” of the players. Whenever there are large amounts of money involved people will take advantage.
    So it’s probably safe to say the players outside the top 20 are not under this kind of scrutiny.

  2. Mat

    Sep 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Those of you judging the ethos of players… I’m sure that you have no faults of your own.

    The article is about the complexity of the Rules, and that their application is either unnecessarily difficult or overly draconian. Turning it into a morality contest seems… Well, not right.

    • Fred

      Oct 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      In the spirit of your comment, Mat, I offer this… It’s interesting – Tiger was accessed a two-shot penalty based on the judgment by PGA officials that his balled moved, which the rules say gave him an “advantage,” toward his next shot. Meanwhile, the USGA has ruled that players who use a belly putter have, in part, an “advantage” over those who use a standard-sized putter, which is why it will become illegal to use in the next four years. So, this means that for the next four years, Adam Scott will be allowed to use a putter the USGA says gives him an advantage over other players, and do so without penalty. Maybe I’m stretching it a bit, here, but, somehow, it seems like a contradiction in defining the term “advantage.” Just a thought.

  3. jo

    Sep 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    a lot of hate here ,thing is tiger was is and always will be the greatest golfer that ever lived ,and people who are small minded and jealous of him will always try put him down .did the ball move it’s easy to say when you can pause rewind and watch over and over again ,but when you get one chance to call it and from a different angle it’s not that easy he did what he thought was right ,hater’s will always hate .

  4. Mark

    Sep 25, 2013 at 2:56 am

    No other professional sport accepts calls from the general public reporting a violation of the sport’s rules that was seen during a broadcast. As anyone who has watched instant replay in football knows, video shown in slow motion shows much different detail than the same incident viewed in real time.

    In the case of the incident with TW, his viewing angle was quite different than the viewing angle of the camera. Any reasonable person would expect to see the same event in two entirely different ways from these angles. The fact that the PGA or whoever was running the tournament allowed this video to be used to change the outcome of an already rendered ruling is a huge black mark on golf itself (regardless whether TW or some other golfer was involved.)

    • Mike

      Sep 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

      absolutely agree with this. if other sports don’t accept public calls especially TV viewer, why should golf??

  5. William E. Rawlinson, Jr.

    Sep 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I think Tiger has always been on the edge in keeping the rules of golf actually and in the spirit of the game. Golf is now and has always been better to Tiger than Tiger has been to golf. With all the fine young players coming on the scene, golf will continue to be the best sport to watch and to play there is. What other game can be played and enjoyed for a lifetime? Tiger’s ball moved, when he removed that small branch. It matters not how the picture was taken – or if there had been no picture. Tiger should have called a penality on himself. That’s keeping the spirit of the game alive.

  6. Andrew

    Sep 24, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    The origins of this rule – it’s purpose then is (surely) to prevent a “preferred lie” being created and to prevent a series of nudges to get closer or in the hole.

    It isn’t to find a way to penalise a golfer for unintentional fractional movements (hence the oscillation clause).

    Given that – the rules do not wish to add strokes of penalty to a player who unintentionally moves his ball for no advantage.

    We need to interpret rules and consider their application within these parameters.

    99.5% of golfers only have to satisfy their playing partners (card markers) that no infractions have occurred. Tiger has to satisfy pedants with HD lenses whose motive is solely to penalise a tall poppy. This motive is contrary to the spirit of the laws of the game and makes golf unjust.

    To me, the movement was barely perceptible, making it very consistent with “oscillation”. If you can’t figure out how to move it back and make it look different to how it currently is, then just agree to call it “oscillation” and move on. Why call a penalty on someone (or insist they call it on themselves) for that?

  7. Carlos

    Sep 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    In the 1958 Masters, Arnold Palmer declared his ball embedded in his own pitch and played for a par3 after a double bogey 5. Ken Venturi was against this play. Palmer marked the 2 scores and Bobby Jones accepted the embedded issue without seeing it. No TV cams. The moral of this story : If you are The King, you are entitled to cheat. Tiger is not the King, yet.

  8. Regis

    Sep 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Personally I don’t care for Tiger. But I also am getting tired of the increased scrutiny afforded by viewers off the course. However I think a very good purpose is served when no one on the course picks up an obvious rules violation (Tiger’s improper drop at Augusta) when someone calls it in. What I would change is the moved ball rule (oscillating?) I would simply change the rule to read that if a player’s ball is moved inadvertently (by any source-outside agency-wind-caddie-other player-player himself{eg: he stepped on it in the rough}) except during a stroke it shall be replaced as close to possible to its original position. The current grouping of rules( Rules 18,19,23,24.1) are just too confusing and for the strict constructionalist slow up play

  9. Bob

    Sep 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Let’s see… how much does Tiger make a year playing golf? Guess this is the price of success, just follow the rules Tiger. BTW, the call on him at the Masters was made by the former head of rules at the USGA… who was watching on TV. He’s got all the officials phone numbers anyway.

  10. leftright

    Sep 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Remember when Craig Stadler put a towel down under a tree so as to not mess up his $150 pants and it cost him 2 shots. Do you know he could have “taken his pants off.” Yea, he should have taken his pants off in front of millions, do you think he might have proved a point and that rule changed? Some rules are mindless to the point of insanity, sort of like the laws in our judicial system. Some make no sense but some miscreant says, “well, its the law.” This Tiger thing is like beating a dead horse because he “did not” consciously cheat. He knows a camera is on him all the time and yea, he might have felt the ball did not move. It did according to officials but Tiger did not have the luxury of rapid frame HD cameras on his ball and who knows what goes through his mind at the time. It was a bad shot gone worse.
    Viewers should “NOT” be able to call in rules violations…period. I guarantee the people who call most real golfers would not even associate with. They are probably A holes.

  11. Doug

    Sep 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I think its odd that they show photos of him dropping a ball at the masters. It wasn’t TV cameras or a phone in that did him in at the masters it was his post round interview where he stated he dropped the ball in an improper place to gain an advantage. Why wasn’t he disqualified from the Masters? Again another opportunity to say “I made a mistake” show some integrity and gracefully bow out. Nope, not Tiger.

  12. Styles

    Sep 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    It is quite possible that from Tiger’s vantage point looking directly down at the ball he could not see the ball move downward and truly thought it had oscillated (OK by the rules) and not moved at the time. But for him to deny that the ball moved after seeing the video becomes the most telling demonstration of his character. His denial that the ball moved after watching the video can only be interpreted as a bald faced lie when the truth would have worked.

    • leftright

      Sep 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      That is my take, I even experimented with it and I’m not sure he had a better view than the HD camera.

      • Styles

        Sep 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        But Tiger’s denial that the ball moved after watching the video can only be interpreted as a bald faced lie when the truth would have worked……a most telling demonstration of his character.

  13. DCM

    Sep 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    That was the most RIDICULOUS call ever!

    The motive behind the rule is that the player doesn’t gain some advantage as a result of the ball movement.

    Can any of you tell me how Tiger had an advantage because of the millimeter his ball moved?? NO.

    Y’all need to grow up

    • RB

      Sep 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Hey Dude, you are completely wrong in this case, since you would need to be standing over the ball and assessing both lies (before and after) to make sure it wasn’t a better lie afterwards. Seems a bit crazy, but even if the ball only moves a quarter of an inch, it could be a much better lie than before. And, at any rate, the rule is clear. It has to be replaced before it is played.

      I had this happen in a tournament. I took a practice stroke when my ball was on the fringe, and some debris under my ball moved as a result of the practice stroke. Nobody saw it and there was no advantage gained, but I called a member of the group over, explained what happened, replaced the ball, took a penalty and a bogey and went on. Tiger has no similar ethics when it comes to golf.

      • leftright

        Sep 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm

        If your ball moved ever so slightly how would you know where to replace it, if it moved at all. Perhaps it did not move and you incurred a penalty by calling a penalty on yourself and replacing the ball to another spot it wasn’t. Ask other members of your group if they think the ball moved, if not maybe it did not move and you are hallucinating from all the conjecture in your mind worrying about the rules instead of hitting the damn golf ball like you should have.

  14. Andy Roberts

    Sep 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Well said/written, Tim Gavrich. One of the (many) great things about golf is that it’s a mirror of one’s character.

    • leftright

      Sep 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      I agree but I would never judge a man based on one episode of supposedly cheating but a person who is called out regularly is probably a cheater.

  15. Mat

    Sep 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Maybe you guys haven’t read your rules lately, but move and oscillate are considered very different. The definition of move here is the ball goes into motion and comes to rest in a different position. Oscillate is to have the ball move but come to rest in the same position.

    A ball is allowed to move (strict) assuming its motion was oscillation (def). If the ball moves (def) then it is a penalty.

    Personally, once a rules official is called in, THEN there should be no call-in. Incidents where officials are called in to observe and rule should not have them second-guessed by callers. However, if a referee was not involved, the notifications should continue for now.

  16. RB

    Sep 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    The ball moved, he saw it move, and he stopped moving his hand immediately after the ball moved, which only confirms that he saw it move as he stood over it. Not even a question. Watch the video and take a look at when he stops moving his hands (and, of course, the loose impediments). I know we all love to debate, but there is no grey area there, friends. He saw it move and immediately stops moving his hands.

  17. M.Coz

    Sep 21, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Everywhere in life we have to deal with racist idiots with an agenda. Every time there is a TW topic some of them have to show up. Without TW, golf would be a 3rd World sport. substandard income for professionals at every level. As it is club pros still have to fight and scratch. Many do it for the love of the game. Every tour player owes TW a cut of their money because w/o him they would be fortunate to make half of what they do now. I personally know dozens of people who are non-golfers that golf when TW plays that never watched the sport before. (Of course they expect him to win every event.)
    Now I have had dinner with TW and Elin. I spent most of the time talking to Elin who I discovered was extremely smart. I like her a lot and non of that has to do with her looks. Also after several “meetings” I am not a fan of TW’s agent Mark Steinberg who is not personable (to say the least). Frankly he comes across as a body guard in public when TW is around. Although he did show a little humbleness at an event a few months after all the sh** hit the fan. Also Butch Harmon is a friend of mine. So I, personally, could actually have a grudge or at least some reservations in regards to TW. But I don’t. I would never consider TW a cheater (on thre golf course!)
    But he is going to have more issues because that is what happens to people who are constantly in the Public Eye. The more you are known the more “shots” you have to take, fair or not. None of our “heroes” are bullet proof or perfect except maybe Willie Mays.

    • leftright

      Sep 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      I don’t think Tiger is a cheater at all and he has called a penalty on himself before, a year or two ago. As with him being the reason they are making a lot of money, they owe is all to Arnold. They would be making the same money because if not Tiger, someone else would have been the man. Tiger is not charismatic enough but if he was like Arnold, he would probably be the President of planet now.

      • Fred

        Sep 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        Leftright – good point. And, let’s face it… if Tiger were British like “Sir” Nick Faldo, the Queen wouldn’t have bothered to make him a Night. She would have made him king!

      • Christian

        Sep 27, 2013 at 1:10 am

        There isn’t a fact in this universe or any other that would support Tiger not being the reason for the high prize money on tour these days.

  18. J.G.

    Sep 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Ask yourself one question would the game of golf be better without tiger like him or hate him he made golf matter again.

    • joe

      Sep 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

      I love watching tiger, but for me, he’s hard to root for.
      No story would be good without a villain.

    • Reg

      Sep 20, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Golf has always mattered to me, Tiger did nothing to change that. All the pros do to affect my game is to drive the prices up on equipment that I have to buy (they get it for free) because they get so much money to use it.

    • leftright

      Sep 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Golf was fine before Tiger and it will be fine after Tiger. There is always someone who steps up. Tiger made everyone else better though because he actually made many of them remove doubt as to their ability. They had to dig for 100% instead of being happy with marginal efforts. He may not have made golf better but I think he made everyone a better golfer who aspired to improve.

      • Fred

        Sep 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        Unfortunately – and the USGA backs this up – golf is not fine. Attendance and interest is down and fewer people are taking up the game; it’s not a sport that is easy to learn to play well. When Tiger is not playing in an event, viewership is minimal, at best. if you want to call Tiger a “cheater” because he let a ball slip a 6th of an inch and didn’t broadcast it to the world, fine. At least he’s never – to my knowledge – ever thrown a club into a crowded gallery and hurt someone like Bobby Jones did.

  19. B MAC

    Sep 20, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Tiger woods cheater in life and golf ! Not a great role model !

  20. S5PJM

    Sep 20, 2013 at 5:47 am

    I am a tiger fan but this incident was a huge missed opportunity for Tiger to show that he has strong integrity. Imagine if that happened and he came walking out of the woods and told the guys he was playing with. “hey guys i know there was no possible way for you to tell from all the way over here but I was just trying to move a loose impediment near my ball and I think it might have moved or osculated .. i need to call a 1 shot penalty on myself” everyone would be admiring his honesty (something he could use some PR help with)and all it would have cost him was one shot .. instead he tried to get away with it and it cost him 2 penalty shots and a ding to his character

  21. Joe

    Sep 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZFG3_o27Uk

    Maybe he moved his ball on that one.

  22. Taylor

    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    If news never broke that he was a bad husband, none of you would have an issue with this. As I mentioned above, He still punched the ball out. It’s not like he was able to put a club on it and knocked it stiff. Put an HD camera on everyone who moves stuff around a ball and let’s see what happens. Golf wouldn’t be where it is today without Tiger, so let’s put the pitch forks and torches away.

    They need to pull the plug on answering outside phone calls. It should be like football, if you hit your next shot, then what happened in the past is done. If the ball moves but doesn’t better the condition, then why penalize the golfer.

    • Dave

      Sep 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      Moving a loose impediment is improving the lie, that’s what he was doing when the ball moved. I agree that Tiger might not have been able to see it move live, but on camera it clearly shifts and he stuck to his story. Tiger didn’t cheat his way to his record, but it does make me wonder if there have been any other times where this may have happened in his career and no one was there to document it. That said, the only level playing field would be to disallow call-in penalties. The example in the article is right on, 0/6 is more equitable than 1/6 on rules infractions just because the 1 is the most scrutinized golfer in the world… I guess you could also argue that if you’re not on TV you’re not playing well and it doesn’t really matter as much, eh?

      • Fred

        Sep 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        You call the ball moving a 16th of an inch in a pile of brush an improvement in lie?

  23. Jason

    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Integrity is what you do when people aren’t watching…..is it surprising that Tiger didn’t call a penalty on himself? Is it surprising that he lacks integrity. If he didn’t think the ball moved is one thing….when shown video that it moved why not just admit you were mistaken. To then go on the attack about how all of your shots are on camera and its not fair for the scrutiny to be directed at him is ridiculous. Hey Tiger you are the best golfer on the planet by leaps and bounds…..of course cameras are pointed at you, that’s why you are a billionaire. Lots of golfers call penaltys on themselves, I’ve had it happen three times this year in tournaments I’ve played in. Everytime nobody in the group saw it and everyone asked are you sure. It’s what real golfers do…..if they break a rule it’s a penalty case closed. I’m not sure how I feel about people calling in a rules infraction but regardless breaking a rule is breaking rule no matter how iris found out.

    • Steve

      Sep 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Did you just imply Tiger Woods isn’t a “real golfer”? Lol I’d love to know what a real golfer is then.

      • Jason

        Sep 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

        Sorry you took my “real” golfers comment so seriously…..try not to lose any sleep over it. Hopefully the next time you’re playing golf and one of your buddies has a couple birdies in a row and claims “I’m on fire” you don’t over think it and throw a bucket of water on him.

    • DB

      Oct 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      hes worth 500 million not a billion step your game up. GOOGLE IT!

  24. nb1062

    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Are we now worried about it because the ‘sacred cow’ of the PGA tour doesn’t like that he has been penalized? Personally, I don’t think that they should ever have accepted phone calls. Craig Stadler should never have penalized for kneeling on a towel. No one seemed too worried about it back then. Then again, that was before Tiger Woods invented the game of golf.

  25. Eric

    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I hadn’t heard that the video wasn’t even from the telecasts cameras…unbelievable. did that mean that individuals with adv axe to getting can follow players around all day with a camcorder…Will that be allowed at the local club championship.

    Personally, the point of golf is for self policing. If the others in the group don’t consider there to be a penalty, there should be no penalty. Period. The officials should be there for clarification of the rules, not to play gotcha.

    • Fred

      Sep 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      Eric: the videographer was a freelancer shooting for the PGA. It’s interesting to note – at least it is for me – that I can’t recall the last time we’ve seen a situation where a cameraman actually got down on his knees and got a shot of a player’s ball through the brush as he or she was attempting to move an obstruction from behind it. And if the same thing would have happened to Phil Mickelson, would everyone be calling him a “cheater?” I doubt it. One thing’s for certain, though – Tiger and the cameraman did have two entirely different views of the ball.

  26. t

    Sep 19, 2013 at 11:35 am

    people who don’t cheat should have nothing to worry about. tiger cheated. I’m glad the camera is always on him

    • Taylor

      Sep 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      You say it like he kicked the ball back into the fairway. The ball moved like a millimeter and I dont even think it really changed its position. I believe he still punched the ball out.

      Get off your soapbox.

      • AlsoStarring

        Sep 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        What I will like to see is a player calling a penalty on himself. As my friends and I do when we play. Is the third time this year Tiger cheats or tries to force the rules to his advantage. Enough to show the kind of player he is. If he was a hcp 25 in my club, nobody will want to play with him.

      • P

        Sep 21, 2013 at 10:57 am

        You don’t have to play golf, Taylor.

      • AJ Jensen

        Oct 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

        I agree that the millimeter move of Tiger’s ball in this case did not affect the lie nor his play of the ball. There comes a point when high-profile players are unfairly scrutinized… in court this would be argued as selective prosecution. Either zoom everybody’s ball until contact with the club, or else quit using TV coverage to assess strokes in play.

    • Johan

      Sep 20, 2013 at 7:24 am

      He did not cheat, he payed for it. right?

    • SCT

      Sep 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

      You stupid people with your pitchforks and rakes need to give it a break there are not any witches here on golf. He might have done like the movie “The Legend Bagger Vance” and called a penalty on himself if he truely thought it moved, but he thought it oscillated. Rules state you can move a loose object without moving your ball, he obviously touched and moved the impediment not his ball the ball moved on its own less than a fraction of an inch. In my eyes and even Walter Hagen the movie said that’s a stupid rule because its an interpretation thing Tiger didn’t intentionally pick up and move the ball so there shouldn’t be a penalty. No one in his group or the rules official with them thought it moved, the TV camera’s didn’t catch it. He still punched it out from the fraction of an inch it moved. There isn’t instant replay in golf, if the official on hand lets a shot happen and no one in his group objects it is a single stroke. (the same with the dropped ball after the pin/water) End of story right there… This calling a penalty hours after something happens is Bull Kaka

      • P

        Sep 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

        SCT,
        that is the dumbest thing ever said.

        The ball moved. Period. He should have admitted to it, scored properly. He did not. Therefore, that is cheating. This is an honorable sport, and he isn’t an honorable person (we all know that by now).

        If that ball had been in a hazard, he would not have tried to touch it, or grounded his club to play the shot, or brushed the grass in the backswing or any of those sorts of rule things – therefore abiding by the “Rules” – so why did he tried to get out of this one? The ball MOVED. End of story.

        • davePet

          Oct 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm

          the golf channel did a piece on this and moved the ball the same amount and asked people if they had moved it or not, and not one person with their naked eyes could tell it had moved…. So yes it moved when zooned and watched in slow mo but Tiger wouldn’t have known it did…

          Another point to this is lets zoom in on ever time a player plays from the rough now. When they ground they club often the ball moves ( or oscilates ) slightly. lets penalize every one not just Tiger

    • Josh

      Sep 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Tiger was looking at the ball from above, while the video was shot from the side. So it is possible that he did not notice the ball move downward by a fraction of an inch. From his point of view, the ball did not move.

      • Christian

        Sep 27, 2013 at 1:02 am

        I agree with Josh. We see it on HD in a severe closeup and we don’t know what Tiger saw except what he stated. I think from above it may have appeared to oscillate. Anyone saying he knew it moved and cheated is simply assuming or guessing.

    • gauffe

      Sep 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      golfers who make a living playing the game should attend a USGA/PGA rules of golf seminar every year and learn the rules. the seminar lasts 3.5 days. at least they should send their caddies. Tiger should not have moved a loose impediment so close to his ball and probably wouldn’t have had he known the rules.

    • GSark

      Oct 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Have you ever hit a ball into a hazard or lost a ball? Have you always replaced a lost ball with the exact same brand that you lost? If not you are a cheat according to the rules of golf. Be wary of name calling.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A discussion of swingweight (Part 1: History)

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For the twenty-five plus years, I’ve been in the equipment business, one of the most commonly-asked-about subjects is that of swingweight. It mostly comes up when a golfer is requesting over-length clubs or is contemplating changing to graphite shafts. So, I’m going to direct a discussion of this topic. Please chime in to let me know your thoughts and input.

The concept of swingweight was developed by custom clubmaker Kenneth Smith about 60 years ago. He was trying to figure out how to “match” clubs, and settled on balance point as a way to do so. His swingweight scale had a “hook” to hold the grip end of the club, and a fulcrum 14 inches from the butt. He created an arbitrary scale of measure that consisted of letters A-F, each letter divided into ten segments, i.e. D1, D2, D3, etc. When he measured the clubs of the day, he found most of them to be in the D2 range, so that became recognized as the “standard” for men’s woods and irons.

The golf club industry quickly adopted this method of “matching” clubs…well, because they had no other way! Because the longer the shaft, the heavier the head feels, clubheads increase in weight as the shaft gets shorter, so that the swingweight will stay the same. The theory then, and now, is that if the swingweight is the same, the clubs will feel essentially the same in the golfer’s hands.

But let’s look at what has happened since Kenneth Smith invented the swingweight scale.

  • Shafts have gotten longer by at least an inch. In the 1940s, a “standard” driver was only 42-43” long – now most are 45” if not more.
  • Shafts have gotten much lighter. Those old steel shafts weighed 150 grams or more, compared to modern graphite driver shafts in the 55-75 gram range.
  • Golfers have gotten stronger while clubs have gotten much lighter overall, but swingweights have always adhered to that D2 “standard.”

You must understand two very important factors about swingweight.

First, a “point” of swingweight–such as D2 to D3–is NOT a unit of measure like an ounce or gram. It takes much less weight to shift a driver one point, for example, than it does a wedge, because the shaft length is such an influence on this measure. Generally, the weight of a single dollar bill is a swingweight point on a driver—not much, huh?

And secondly, the overall weight of the club is at least as important as swingweight. Jack Nicklaus was noted for playing a driver in his prime that was 13.25 oz in overall weight–very heavy even for that time (most are about 10.5 oz now!), while his swingweight was only C9, considered very light. S

Swingweight by itself is a rather worthless piece of information!

So, that should get this discussion going. I’ll give you a few days to toss out your questions and comments on this subject, and then I’ll begin to address my own theories on swingweight for YOUR clubs.

Sound off, readers!

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TG2: Review of the new ShotScope V3 GPS & shot tracking watch, Vessel VLX Stand Bag!

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I get the new ShotScope V3 GPS and shot tracking watch on my wrist for a few rounds and love the data. ShotScope V3 offers accurate GPS distances while seamlessly tracking your club data.

Vessel Bag’s new VLX stand bag is a high end, lightweight, luxury bag for golfers who love to walk. Walking with the VLX was actually more comfortable than my pushcart!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

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Learn how your own anatomy is designed to roll the golf ball in the direction you want to start the putt without any interference or assistance on your behalf.

All you need is a system of predictions that will help you confirm that your putting stroke is pointed in the right direction. This is how you become a witness to gravity sinking the putt for you. This will become clear after you listen to the podcast and give this a try at a golf course near you!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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