A black eye for professional golf

Attention all you sports fans out there, wouldn’t it be nice if we had the power to change an outcome of an event or game from the comforts of our own home? Suppose we were watching a baseball game and noticed the hitter did not touch all of the bases after hitting a home run.  We could call or email the league office and get the ruling overturned. Perhaps there was an obvious pass interference call during a football game that the referees missed. Once again, maybe us fans should take matters into our own hands and be the final judges. Oh never mind the officials at the game, we are the ultimate referees. Sounds rather silly doesn’t it? What sport would actually give someone sitting at home that kind of power? Well as it turns out, professional golf does.

The whole episode last week with professional women’s golfer Lexi Thompson is one of the strangest and most ridiculous rulings that I have ever seen in all my years of watching sports. To recap, Thompson made the terrible sin of not placing her ball directly behind the coin that was placed in front of her ball on the putting green before she picked up the ball. Instead, Thompson placed her ball on the side of the coin, roughly about an inch away from her original position.  The new location was not closer to the cup and no official noticed her placing the ball in the incorrect location. As it turns out, an anonymous fan at home noticed and sent an email to LGA headquarters. Yes, a serious rule violation took place and Thompson must pay! To make matters even worse, the viewer waited until the next day (final day of the tournament) to contact the league office. After reviewing the complaint the following, the official slapped Thompson with not only a 2 stroke penalty, but another 2 stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. It was not until the 12th whole on the final day of the tournament that Thompson was notified of this violation.

I find several things extremely wrong with this whole story, but I will focus on just a few. First of all, why did the rules official miss that so-called infraction? Was the official assigned to that group taking a late afternoon snooze? With all the advanced  technology that we currently have, there is absolutely no reason at all for missing something like that. The rules officials should have been on top of it immediately.

Second of all, this was an honest mistake by the player and the ball was not placed any closer to the hole. The only way I can see Thompson gaining an advantage is if there were a spike mark on the path to the hole. But let’s be real, I highly doubt moving the ball that little distance really affected the putt’s path at all. A silly rule if you ask me!

3rd and last of all, why is some viewer so obsessed that he or she would be willing to take time and write to the league headquarters to complain about such a minor infraction? And not to do it promptly? What do they feel they are gaining by doing this? I highly doubt this individual will have to guts to come out and become known.

I just feel that in any sporting event, it is the job of the officials to make calls and not the viewers at home. They get paid to do so, not us viewers at home. The officials of the LPGA should view ashamed of this happening. It is a huge black eye on the sport of golf. When a television viewer suddenly affects the outcome of a tournament, things are not right. We are going down a  slippery slope if this it not changed.  I just hope the officials learn from this and make changes to ensure this embarrassment does not happen again. Lexi Thompson deserved to be treated better than that. She probably lost a major championship and thousands of dollars due to incompetence by tournament officials and some anonymous fan. That is just not right!

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