COSTLY BRAIN FARTS

Golf Australia - - AROUND THE TRAPS - 18 | – Michael Jones

THE COL­LEC­TIVE groans of the golf­ing world con­tinue to in­ten­sify as we wit­ness more and more score­card blun­ders and crazy rul­ings. Make no mis­take. There’s noth­ing wrong with keep­ing the tra­di­tion of score­cards alive in pro­fes­sional golf. They should still be a part of the game. But with mod­ern tech­nol­ogy keep­ing track of the play­ers’ move­ments, they shouldn’t still have the power to change the out­come of a tour­na­ment.

It is a case of the pun­ish­ment no longer fit­ting the crime.

Play­ers of­ten make in­no­cent mis­takes on their cards. Or some­times they for­get to sign them al­to­gether, as was the case for Aus­tralia’s high­est ranked fe­male golfer at the Volvik Cham­pi­onship.

“I just had a brain fart,” Min­jee Lee said af­ter be­ing dis­qual­i­fied from a top-10 fin­ish and cost­ing her­self $24,000. “I don’t know how I missed it, but ob­vi­ously I did.”

Then, of course, we wit­nessed the Lexi Thomp­son de­ba­cle at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion, which made the Rules of Golf look painfully out­dated. ‘How can she be pun­ished for sign­ing an in­cor­rect score­card when she thought it was cor­rect at the time …’ was

the gen­eral con­sen­sus. Prior to 2016, Thomp­son would have been au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied for that mis­take. Which, of course, made a lot of sense be­cause of­fi­cials didn’t have a way of track­ing ev­ery player. But times have changed.

Ge­off Ogilvy put it best when he re­cently wrote: “No one should ever be pe­nalised for sign­ing a wrong score. That’s ac­count­ing and has no place in mod­ern pro­fes­sional golf. Think about it. With the tech­nol­ogy they have avail­able, of­fi­cials know ex­actly what score I shot.”

Frankly, it’s a bad look for a sport that’s so of­ten la­belled ‘stuffy’. You’re not go­ing to grow the game if tra­di­tion con­tin­ues to get in the way. What other sports re­quire play­ers to keep score? Can you imag­ine watch­ing a game of foot­ball where ev­ery player had to sign off on the re­sult?

Stub­born­ness is golf’s ma­jor weak­ness. The fact the Rules of Golf are only re­vised ev­ery four years at­tests to this. While it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge and re­spect the sport’s his­tory, it’s just as im­por­tant to em­brace progress. Score­cards still have a place in the pro­fes­sional game, but the penalty for mak­ing in­no­cent mis­takes des­per­ately needs to be re­viewed. What do you think? Should Tour play­ers still have to hand in a score­card?

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