FanDuel - WFBC

July 19, 2008

Michelle Wie Disqualified for Scorecard Gaffe: In second place at 17 under after three rounds of the State Farm Classic Saturday, Wie was disqualified from the tournament for failing to sign her second-round scorecard until after leaving the scorer's tent. "She was like a little kid after you tell them there's no Santa Claus," said LPGA official Sue Witters.

posted by rcade to golf at 05:17 PM - 62 comments

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Professional golf has got to get rid of the damn scorecard. It's like an appendix: It can blow up and kill you, but it doesn't serve any useful purpose to justify its existence. Every pro tournament these days has multiple sources tracking the scores, so why make the players do it themselves as well? It only seems to serve as a "gotcha" to get someone DQ'ed. And this one seems even more lame than the usual "signing an incorrect scorecard" DQ. At least in that case, you could make the case that someone was trying to cheat (though it is generally an innocent mistake). But that wasn't even the case here. If she forgot to sign her card, then let her sign it once the oversight is noticed. Nobody gets cheated by allowing that sort of thing. I'm not much of a Michelle Wie fan, or even golf in general for that matter, aside from Tiger. But I hate seeing people lose on technicalities, especially trivial ones like this. Yes, the rules are the rules, but when the rules are stupid, they need to be fixed.

posted by TheQatarian at 06:11 PM on July 19

Amen to your comments, Qatarian!! the account by the BBC shows: "Wie said that after Friday's round she left the tent where players sign their scorecards and was immediately chased by some tournament volunteers who pointed out she had not signed. But according to Witters, Wie had already walked outside the roped-off area around the tent, making the error irreversible. "It was an honest mistake on her behalf," said Witters. "Once it was brought to her attention, and we asked her to tell us what she recalled from yesterday once she got in the scoring tent, she about verbatim told us what we were told by a few of the volunteers. "Never at any point did she try to deceive us. She couldn't have been more honest." She never really got very far from the scoring tent and the "defined" area before signing it and turning it in. The USGA rules says "immediately" which has become before your leave the tent or the marked area... nonsense situation.

posted by Fly_Piscator at 06:42 PM on July 19

I hate the scorecard signing rule. Why subject players and fans to stress over whether somebody signs a card correctly? Would NASCAR be a better sport if drivers had to count their own laps? By taking a hard-line on this rule, the LPGA just screwed itself out of what could have been Michelle Wie's first victory.

posted by rcade at 07:40 PM on July 19

The rules are the rules but this is a huge sack of crap. Ditto Qatarian.

posted by budman13 at 09:10 PM on July 19

Why isn't there a LPGA official inside the tent making sure players do what they need to do before they walk out? Or did they just let her go while keeping silent? Bad move by the LPGA. And... ditto TheQ.

posted by BoKnows at 09:28 PM on July 19

Signing the scorecard was developed 'back in the day' as a gentlemanly way of saying that you were swearing you didn't cheat on holes where your opponents could not see your lie, shot or play. I cannot believe that the origin of the scorecard signature has evolved into a way to screw someone. The entire group of golf associations need to move into the 21st century, and use today's modern technology so that they can abolish this antiquated method of record keeping. The mere fact that a large majority of the tournaments are televised precludes the necessity of manual scoring. Every sanctioned tournament has multiple officers at every hole, and judges available for rulings. The need for a scorecard or signature has fallen by the wayside. Qatarian has it right.

posted by knowsalittle at 09:42 PM on July 19

Golf is the sport of the individual - no teamates or pit crews - one person against the field, the course, and one's own demons. From the first tee to the signing of the score card one must be on their game and sharp; mentally and physically. Get over Wie's mistake. It happened and will probably happen to others again, although most likely not to Wie! Nobody has been allowed to futz with the rules nor to make "imporovements" such as the shot clock, three point line, coaches challenge, etc. Please, just let it Wie.

posted by puttandchip at 10:17 PM on July 19

posted by BoKnows at 02:47 AM on July 20

Sorry about that up there.

posted by BoKnows at 02:54 AM on July 20

p&c I don't think anyone has a problem with the fact that Ms. Wie made a mistake and was penalized for it. The general consensus is that the scorecard is an antiquated aspect of the game that serves zero purpose and should be abandoned. Obviously Ms. Wie made a mistake and deserved to penalized, no one has an issue with that. The issue is the useless rule (that while a rule should be enforced) that she violated needs to go the way of the dodo.

posted by HATER 187 at 02:56 AM on July 20

Hater's assessment of my point is correct. As for not letting golf be "improved", I really don't see how getting rid of the scorecard would fundamentally alter the real game of golf (the part up the the ball going into the 18th hole) in any way. People don't need to wear suits when they play anymore, so why do they need a useless scorecard? Two other points: With the rule as it is, being DQ'ed for an offense like that sure seems like getting the death penalty for a parking ticket. You'd think they could come up with something less severe, like perhaps a stroke penalty or something. Also, I should note that while Wie has earned a reputation for being immature (and deservedly so), she should be commended for her handling of this situation. She's sure taking this a lot better than I would have. I'd be telling them to shove their nitpicky little rules and show up to play on Sunday.

posted by TheQatarian at 08:23 AM on July 20

Golf is the sport of the individual - no teamates or pit crews ... You forgot about caddies.

posted by rcade at 08:46 AM on July 20

Yet another poor person victimized by stupid rules...

posted by lsutigers96 at 01:51 PM on July 20

Actually, yeah- why would the caddy (caddie?) allow this to happen? Are the players isolated in the tent when they do any post-round paperwork? If so, I still don't fathom how this happens. Why wouldn't the players just pre-sign their cards and all other paperwork? The article didn't seem clear on exactly how this happened; was it a few seconds of time when she was walking out that they immediately noted you didn't sign your card? Was she walking so fast that no one, not even her caddy, could keep her from leaving the "magic pixie dust" area?

"Wie said that after Friday's round she left the tent where players sign their scorecards and was immediately chased by some tournament volunteers who pointed out she had not signed."
So I am still confused how this happens; they go into a tent to sign the card and do other paperwork formalities, and the tournament volunteers are right there, she stands up to leave and they "chase" her but somehow not in time to get her before she leaves the roped off area? Is this a game of "Gotcha!"? Wouldn't the volunteers simply hand her the paperwork, and check it before accepting it and having her walk off? But while I get the [Fiddler on the Roof]"Tradition!"[/Fiddler on the Roof] principle of golf, some traditions were meant to be retired, such as this one. DQ'ing someone for not signing the card seems ridiculous. It seems that any card signing should be more like a contract: they finish the round, the [L]PGA guides them through the paperwork, and they have an opportunity to dispute the official score if it differs from their own card (they can, after all, simply point to the hole they think there is an error in). Once they sign the "official" card, however, it should be done, even if later video reviews show an error was made. The idea of walking away and somehow the round goes unplayed is insane. This happens in... no other sport. It's competitive, televised, and highly funded. The players finish their rounds and are probably being urged to hurry up so they can get interviewed by some TV schmoo. It's not some gentlemanly game played in the highlands, and the mere idea that you can be executed from the tournament simply by not signing a card that you've probably signed a few hundred times before, as a formality, is ridiculous. Yeah, yeah- signing the card reflects some piss-ant notion of "being sharp from start to finish". The closest analogue I can think of is turning in the official lineup card to the umpire before the game starts- failure to do so forfeits the game. But in that case, the umpire will actually chase down the managers to get the cards instead of playing "gotcha!" and forfeiting the game out from under their feet. All other sports recognize that it's the game on the field that matters, and not backroom official scoring nonsense. Oh wait- "official scorer"... that makes sense. I would think a big-time, televised sport with big-time sponsors and official organizations would simply have "official scorers".

posted by hincandenza at 02:01 PM on July 20

rcade: What is the source for the LPGA official Sue Witters quote in the original post? I couldn't find it in either of the links. (I suspect the article may have been updated since you linked it) EDIT: Found it here. You know, that really makes Ms. Witters, and by extension the LPGA, seem pretty classless. What a demeaning thing for an official to say about a competitor they'd just eliminated.

posted by Joey Michaels at 02:45 PM on July 20

Whoa- Joey, that article not only revealed the classlessness of Witters and the LPGA, but it pointed out something that I glossed over in the FPP article:

"She was like a little kid after you tell them there's no Santa Claus," said Witters, adding that she and other tour officials didn't learn about the mistake until well after Wie teed off Saturday morning, so they let her finish the round.
So I was incorrect in my assumption. This wasn't even a case of them accosting her just after leaving the tent after she finished her round; the LPGA itself didn't even notice the error until 24 hours later, well after she tees off the next round. If the LPGA didn't notice the error until the next day, shouldn't it be a wash? And if they didn't notice till after she teed off, why didn't they stop her round, instead of letting her play the entire round and finish? What assholes. I mean, oops, everyone fucked up, but it's not like the score is in dispute. It almost sounds Pine Tar Incident-esque; they could have disqualified her before the third round even started, but it's as if they waited until the opportune time. Hell, it's possible they could have missed this until after the final round; imagine if Wie had gone on to win, ESPN has that as a story, then Monday they report that Wie was DQ'ed on a stupid technicality! At least in the Pine Tar Incident, MLB made the right call, recognized that the rule violation didn't violate the spirit of the game and let the on-field result stand. Neither the PGA or LPGA have that kind of intelligence. So uh, fucktards at the LPGA? You failed to catch a player turning in an unsigned card until the next day. I guess you're now disqualified from running events, thanks to the magic of "Tradition!". Kthxbye.
Aside, from the ESPN article:
LPGA veteran Betsy King, working as a TV analyst at the State Farm tournament, said Saturday that she always had her caddy stand over her as she turned in her scorecard, making sure nothing had been missed. Tour officials weren't sure whether Wie's caddie accompanied her into the scoring tent.
So even ESPN can't agree if it's "caddy" or "caddie".

posted by hincandenza at 03:08 PM on July 20

Everyone should skip singning their scorecards, and let the Game continue. they won't DQ everyine.

posted by asonjack at 03:11 PM on July 20

Actually, the way I'm reading the story, the tent volunteer stopped her after she'd past the magic fairie line of no return on her way out of the tent (maybe five minutes after forgetting to sign it), she returned and signed her card, and then she left thinking everything was all right. Then, the next day the LPGA discovered its error and, instead of addressing the situation right away, let her believe she was still in contention for an entire day. Then Mrs. Witters made fun of her reaction. Stay classy, LPGA.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:50 PM on July 20

Ah! A little more digging. Golf.com has a different version of the Witters quote: "I felt like I was telling somebody that there was no Santa Claus," Witters said. That is not nearly as demeaning as "She was like a little kid..." I would be curious to know which quote is accurate. The Golf.com quote sounds a lot more like Witters was saying she felt bad. The more commonly reported version of the quote sounds like "HA HA!"

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:58 PM on July 20

Yeah, if they snagged her and re-signed it, why bother DQ'ing her a day later? I think the key phrase is "the LPGA discover its error", apparently in having her sign the card. But they didn't discover or care about this till the next day. But... if they'd just done nothing, would anyone have cared? It's pure teh dumb on the LPGA's part. Eh, there's no way the LPGA seems like anything but douches from this. But it won't change the sport, because all its players will defend its stupidity. Even Wie called it a "learning experience" instead of "an atrocious level of stupidity that should not be seen in a sport striving to be modern and relevent".

posted by hincandenza at 05:12 PM on July 20

I've read a few different articles yesterday and today, all of which include different quotes from Witters. And my favorite has been Witters describing how she didn't learn about the mistake from volunteers until Sat. So, I guess that means that the scorecard rules (signing of) is overseen by volunteers! WTF. Volunteers are helpful, sure. They can give out soda and hot dogs, they can wave those "silent" signs when players are hitting, they can even rope off areas while players are walking from hole to hole. But having volunteers report scoring errors just seems wrong. Then there is some 24 hour communication breakdown between the scoring tent and the Director of Tournament Competion - Witters. If the LPGA is going to enforce rules while using words like immediate, then they should be counted on to penalize immediately. To me, it seems Witters is covering her own tracks.

posted by BoKnows at 05:43 PM on July 20

Hmmm, she signed the scorecard. The tournament director did not know about the delay. Then, after she teed off the next day, the director found out. Sounds like someone squealed on Wie to get her out of the tournament. Why else would it have even come up?

posted by graymatters at 07:24 PM on July 20

My thinking exactly, she's angered many within the ranks of the LPGA for withdrawing from tournaments, so I don't think it's far-fetched at all to believe that she was ratted out. In fact, the way they let her play her entire next round before telling her smacks of retribution..."we'll show her" Not that I watch the LPGA now, (who has time to watch a bunch of 18 year old girls in short skirts and tight golf shirts all day), but I'm sure not going to watch now, and I'll never check out photo's of Natile Gulbis, or Anna Rawson, or Cristie Kerr, nope, not going to do it. Well, not anymore.

posted by dviking at 12:04 AM on July 21

Full Transcript of the Sue Witters Press Conference She actually says both Santa Claus lines over the course of the conversation, though she makes it clear that she felt horrible telling her this. She also goes out of her way to praise the way that Wei responded to the whole situation. The justification for not alerting her until the round was over is that they don't want to disrupt the rounds. Anyhow, despite all this, I still feel like the LPGA royally screwed the pooch on this one.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:18 AM on July 21

It seems as if every pro golfer has one scorecard DQ in his/her career, and that it exists to ensure that you never overlook it again. Tiger has apparently avoided it -- the great Gazoogle would know if he had -- but Sergio Garcia got dumped from last year's US PGA after signing for the wrong score. On the one hand, it's clear that the rules have been adapted to reflect the presence of cameras, because golfers receive relief when they land in camera cables, etc. On the other hand, if golf loses the 'leading player futzes up scorecard' method of defeat, I can't help thinking that something of the game -- like it or not, there's always the faintest whiff of institutional assholery in golf -- has been consigned to history.

posted by etagloh at 07:35 AM on July 21

There are six main members of the International Federation of PGA Tours: The PGA Tour, The European Tour, The Japan Golf Tour, The Asian Tour, The PGA Tour of Australasia and The Sunshine Tour. There are two associate member tours: The Canadian Tour and the Tour de las Americas. Other main tours include the Korean Tour, the Indian Tour, the China Tour, The Challenge Tour in Europe, The Challenge Tour in Japan, the Nationwide Tour in the US, The EuroPro Tour, The Alps Tour, the EPD Tour, the Celtic Pro Tour, the Telia Tour, the Midas Tour, The Gateway Tour and The NGA Hooters Tour. That's just for men. Add in the ladies tours (of which there are at least ten worldwide) and the seniors tours, and most weeks of the year, there will be upward of 20 professional events being played worldwide. Field sizes vary, but if it averages out at 75 (a very conservative estimate), that's 1,500 players. If they're playing in groups of three, that's 500 groups. That's 500 people needed each week to act as an official scorer - or 1,500 people if you're not happy with one referee doing it for 3 people at a time (and each of those three having to wait for the referee to arrive at their ball before they can hit it). So what's easier? Leave the scoring to the players, who have done it themselves throughout the history of the game, seldom with any error and almost never with any complaint (from anyone actually inside the game) even when things do go wrong, or find 500 people each week and pay them to observe? Whether the event is televised or not is irrelevent. Did the cameras cover every one of Wie's shots? Was there a camera sufficiently close to her ball when she was in the rough to ascertain (with at least as much certainty as Wie can provide herself) that the ball didn't move when she addressed it? You know the answer is no, and you also know that even if it did happen, to do it for every player in the field would be impossible. It's very simple. The game is self governing. To avoid confusion, a record of your scores must be handed over at the end of the round, and you must attest to that record. It's not a hard thing to do. You don't even have to add those 18 numbers up, just make sure they tally with what happened, and sign on the correct dotted line. The rule isn't there to catch people. The fact that it does from time to time is simply evidence that all rules must be defined and sometimes people fall over that boundary - either on purpose (*cough* Vijay *cough*) or by accident. No one within the game is bothered - including the supposed "victim" in this case - so why is everyone else so upset by it? The man who retained the Open Championship yesterday suffered a similar disappointment in 2000. I signed for a wrong score once, but it was higher than my actual score for the hole, so the higher score simply stood, causing me to miss instead of make the cut. In truth, a bit like Sergio, I wasn't that bothered. It was 100F in the shade all week and I needed another two rounds like I needed punched in the face.

posted by JJ at 09:39 AM on July 21

So what's easier? Leave the scoring to the players, who have done it themselves throughout the history of the game, seldom with any error and almost never with any complaint (from anyone actually inside the game) even when things do go wrong, or find 500 people each week and pay them to observe? Two problems with this argument: 1) You wouldn't need 500 people each week; you'd need one or two people at each hole, which would be far less. 2) More importantly, these people already exist. Someone is obviously keeping track of the scores, otherwise, how do we have leaderboard updates (and not just on TV, but online for non-televised tournaments)? And how does anyone know if an incorrect scorecard was signed if they don't know what the correct score is? There is a PGA official with every group as it is for rule interpretations and that sort of thing...let that person keep the score. To clarify, the scorecard doesn't bother me for smaller tournaments where no one else is keeping track of the score and someone has to. It's just when you have an event where everyone already knows what's going on that the scorecard serves no purpose other than to mess people up. No one within the game is bothered - including the supposed "victim" in this case - so why is everyone else so upset by it? In this particular case, it bothers me because the punishment far outweighs the crime. Wie didn't do anything that could even remotely be construed as "cheating", but got DQ'ed on the most trivial of technicalities. I prefer the winner be determined by what happens on the course/field/rink/etc., because that's how a sport is supposed to work. In general, the scorecard annoys me for all of the reasons I've already mentioned, so I won't bother repeating them. But again, it boils down to the outcome of the event not being determined by what actually happened. I will agree with you on one thing, though: Nobody inside the game is complaining about it. That thoroughly surprises me. But I'd bet that if they got rid of the scorecard, no one would complain, either.

posted by TheQatarian at 11:59 AM on July 21

It's a load of crap! If Michelle Wei wasn't playing well, then of course she shouldn't continue playing but because she forgot/failed to sign her score card, she's disqualified? Signing her card has nothing to do with her actual play, it is looked as more of a gesture than anything. If it's in the rules, so be it but com'on now, this is something that the PGA and the LPGA need to take a serious look at. It's not like she cheated, it was said that Wei was honest about the situation and made no attempt to make it seem as if she needed to lie. Let Michelle play.

posted by BornIcon at 12:27 PM on July 21

So what's easier? Leave the scoring to the players, who have done it themselves throughout the history of the game, seldom with any error and almost never with any complaint (from anyone actually inside the game) even when things do go wrong, or find 500 people each week and pay them to observe? For me JJ, I'm not suggesting that every Tour have official scorers to oversee the tent. I'm suggesting that the PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour deserve it. They are the highest profiled Tours for golf (at least in the US), and the scoring should be overseen by qualified individuals. What would happen if Tiger forgot to sign his card? And then allowed to play the Sat round, only to be notified later that some nobody in the scoring tent just had you DQ'd. If this is top notch golf, there should be top notch amenities/scoring/officials available.

posted by BoKnows at 12:36 PM on July 21

I would like to know what is magic about this arbitrary line that was crossed. If she would have stepped outside the tent to fart would that have been okay??? I guess she would just have to gas the vols or be DQ'd

posted by Ironhead at 01:29 PM on July 21

BoKnows: If this is top notch golf, there should be top notch amenities/scoring/officials available. Thank you - I've been having a difficult time nailing down why this bothers me so much. Despite the fact that it is an archaic rule, it is in the books and I have no problem with the LPGA (or any other GA) enforcing it. Wie doesn't apparently have an issue with it - nor have any players come out against it. It bothers me that, after being called back in the tent to sign her card, Wie left thinking that there was no problem. It bothers me more that the LPGA officials only found this out when they overheard a conversation about what had happened. And it bothers me most of all that, after the LPGA failed to properly train their volunteers in regards to the rules regarding scorecards and notification of the LPGA regarding infractions, that they still axed her mid-round and didn't inform her until after. Wie should have signed the cards. The LPGA's volunteers should have known that she should be ejected as soon as she passed the magic fairie dust line outside the tent. Wie has taken responsibility for not signing the card in a timely manner, but I don't feel like the LPGA has sufficiently acknowledged their part of the screw up here.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:55 PM on July 21

Rules are rules. Follow them until they are changed. This wasn't her first tournament. (The only place rules do not seem to apply is the strike zone in baseball, and traveling for some basketball stars.)

posted by Old Ray at 07:19 PM on July 21

The issue, to me, isn't the DQ - its how the LPGA handled the DQ. She should follow the rules, but they should enforce the rules in a timely manner. To put it another way, she should have been DQ'd as soon as she crossed the magic fairie line outside the tent. She shouldn't have been allowed to play a whole other round before the infraction was enforced. That is, in my opinion, bush league.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:41 PM on July 21

Exactly, Joey- and, once she did start playing that round, I'd argue the LPGA loses any chance to DQ her for the previous rounds. Like throwing the challenge flag in the NFL, once the next play starts you don't get to throw it- it's in the books, it's done. The LPGA didn't even know about it, and then the only evidence wasn't an unsigned card, it's the claim of one person that she didn't sign it before walking past a magic roped of pixie land area. What if that person was lying, or mistaken in their recollection? I think the DQ itself is pure stupidity in any case, but infinitely more so when they DQ her after the end of the next round. JJ, I know you're a golfer, and I know you believe in this hogwash about tradition and spirit and nobility and all that, but as has been noted there already is someone keeping score for these tournaments. The reason I linked the famous Pine Tar Incident in baseball is that it was an old rule, an umpire made a call that was accurate to the precise rules... and the next day, the league front office overruled it, noting that the spirit of the rule was not violated- and also noting that the original rule was put in place by a skinflint equipment manager on the Rules Committee who was tired of players using so much expensive pine tar- and not for some conferred advantage. In the same vein, there is zero reason the [L]PGA should be doing this bush league bullshit any more. It's not 1883, we aren't playing in the Highlands where the only thing protecting the game from liars and cheats is "honesty". These events are televised, they have six or seven figure prizes, and the act of signing is more symbolic (like kissing the brick at Indianapolis). Neither Wie, Harrington, nor you were trying to cheat, and there's zero reason that the league shouldn't make sure that there's someone at the final tent making sure every i is dotted and t crossed. Otherwise, it makes the sport seem pathetic, full of asinine gotchas and semantic hair spliting that is more befitting a courtroom than the rolling hills. I'd ask you one simple question, JJ: when would the statute of limitations expire on this stupid, stupid, rule? If Wie had gone on to win, and then a week later a volunteer mentioned to the LPGA and the press that Wie didn't sign her Friday card until she was snagged as she was leaving the tent, whereby she promptly signed it- would her win be revoked? Would she have to give back prize money she may have already spent part of? And if that's the case.... why can't you see that those of us who are fans of sport find this very notion caustic?

posted by hincandenza at 08:58 PM on July 21

Hal: I said nothing about the tradition, spirit or nobility of it. The marking of a scorecard is a practical measure that allows the playing of the game to continue to be self-refereed. That's important not out of some sense of honour or whatever, but simply because it's not practical for anyone else to referee it. Last week at the Open, about 25% of the shots played were played from knee-high grass. You could have a referee standing three feet from the player and still the only person who is going to know if the ball moved at address is the player. There's no other way to govern the game. Furthermore, my worry would be that if you put in a referee (and the more I think about it, I reckon you'd need more not fewer people than I originally estimated), then golf starts to lean toward being like most other sports where deceiving the referee isn't frowned upon, but actually lauded and rewarded. In soccer, rugby, NFL, basketball, baseball - you name it - there's an extent to which you could argue that the winning team can be the one that cheats best. If golf became like that, it's suddenly incumbent on referee to spot you improving your lie, and if you can do it without him noticing, it's fair game. I don't want to play that version of golf. I said it before, but I'll say it again - no one within the sport has their knickers in a knot, so why should it bother the rest of us? I can see that you find it caustic, Hal, but I don't think you should. It's the nature of the game, but it intereferes a handful of times a season at any level and a handful of times a decade where it dictates the outcome of the tournament. There are two issues here - the rule and the application of it. The rule is not only fine but necessary in my opinion. The application of it in this instance was clearly hopeless. As to when Wie was informed - I think the LPGA did the right thing. They became aware of the problem during her round and waited until the end of the round to tell her she was out. The reason they didn't tell her midway through was, I presume, out of consideration for her playing partner, for whom the inevitable confusion and comotion that would have been caused by ejecting Wie from the tournament mid-round would have been unsettling to say the least.

posted by JJ at 06:11 AM on July 22

Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong in the playing of a hole: Before the player tees the ball up: Does the ball the player is using conform to the requirements specified in the rules? Has the player added any foreign material to the ball? Has the player exceeded the 14-club maximum? Do his clubs conform to the requirements specified in the rules? On the tee: Is the ball teed up and struck from the correct teeing area (i.e., between and behind the markers, but no more than two club-lengths behind the markers)? In play: Did the player play the correct ball? Did the player improve his lie? Did the player improve the area of his stance or intended swing? Did he bend, break or remove anything fixed or growing? Did he press anything down? In a hazard, did he ground his club or illegally remove loose impediments? In making a stroke, did he push, scrape or scoop the ball instead of hitting it? On the green: Did the player replace the ball correctly having marked and cleaned it? Did he repair only ball marks on the putting surface and not spike marks or other irregularities? Was the flagstick correctly removed to avoid a ball struck on the putting surface hitting it? Was a fair stroke made, again without a push, scrape or scoop? In my estimation, the breaking of about half of those rules would be unobservable to anyone other than the player. Even if you did have observers, Q, you'd need way more than one or two per hole. Three players per group, spread out over the hole, and most holes being played by two groups at a time - sometimes more? You'd need dozens. These people don't already exist. There is an official scorer with each group, but he/she is there to observe the scores so that any discrepancy can be questioned later (and explained - "You saw me hit four shots, but what you didn't see was that I moved the ball when I addressed it, so there was a penalty.")

posted by JJ at 06:42 AM on July 22

JJ, you make some very good points regarding why the rule should remain as written, and I'm not going to argue that. I would ask, however, as mentioned before, why there is such a serious penalty for a seemingly innocuous transgression? She went back and signed the card. No score change--no harm, no foul. I could understand perhaps a 1 or 2 stroke penalty for not signing the card before leaving the tent (I think someone may have mentioned that earlier as well.), but wouldn't you agree that a disqualification for forgetting to sign the scorecard (again, no intent to cheat, just a mistake) is quite harsh?

posted by bender at 07:21 AM on July 22

bender, I would guess if the penalty weren't a death penalty, there's not enough incentive to keep people from trying to bend the rules. If the only penalty is 1 or 2 strokes, why not try to beat the system? You're thinking of what would be "fair" in this case where an honest mistake was made, but you need to consider the ramifications of such a change in rules as well.

posted by yerfatma at 07:40 AM on July 22

I said it before, but I'll say it again - no one within the sport has their knickers in a knot, so why should it bother the rest of us? Personally, even if the rule didn't bother a single pro golfer it would still bother me. I don't watch golf to see an event overturned by a scorekeeping error. That's not good TV. A few years ago Wie was disqualified for a drop that put her closer to a hole after a sports journalist questioned it. I can live with that, but her infraction here consisted of stepping outside a tent. That's ridiculous.

posted by rcade at 07:50 AM on July 22

It is and it isn't, rcade - the line has to be drawn somewhere, otherwise there's no limitation. The line was drawn outside the tent and she crossed it, so harm or not, it's still a foul. The boundaries exist to define the game - it wouldn't be ridiculous to disallow a goal in soccer where the ball had previously crossed the line by a fraction of an inch, so why should this particular boundary be porous? bender, the penalties are: Sign for a higher score than you actually made? The higher score stands, but there is no further sanction. Sign for a lower score than you actually made? Disqualification, whether it was an innocent mistake or a Vijay magic pencil moment. Fail to sign the card? Disqualification. For my money, that's all the rule can be. There is no attested record of your score if you didn't sign it. The whole leaving the tent before you signed it thing is an issue of where you draw the line as the tournament organiser. They drew a line at the door of the tent and she crossed it *shrug*. The stupid thing really is that Wie didn't sign her card. Who knows how many rounds of golf she has played in her life - hundreds if not more - so forgetting to sign your card is pretty dumb. It's what you do when you finish playing. That's not good TV. God help us from the basis of sports rules being whether or not it makes good TV.

posted by JJ at 08:37 AM on July 22

It's perhaps illustrative of how the rule is viewed from within the game that Roberto DeVicenzo's response to his disaster in the 1968 Masters (he made 3 at 17, but his playing partner put him down for a 4 and Roberto signed his card without checking it, costing himself a playoff spot) wasn't "What a stupid rule!" but "What a stupid I am!"

posted by JJ at 08:43 AM on July 22

God help us from the basis of sports rules being whether or not it makes good TV. Rules changes happen all the time in sports to make them more watchable, such as the three-point line and shot clock in basketball, rules to disadvantage defenses in football, and shootout tiebreakers in soccer and hockey. Though golf has been more resistant to major tinkering, they have allowed improvements to balls and clubs all the time, and there are frequent minor rule changes.

posted by rcade at 09:16 AM on July 22

Rules changes happen all the time in sports to make them more watchable, such as the three-point line and shot clock in basketball, rules to disadvantage defenses in football, and shootout tiebreakers in soccer and hockey. And every one of those changes -- with the possible exception of the shot clock in basketball -- has lessened the sport it was supposed to make more watchable. Sign your damned scorecard, or if you can't remember, write "SIGN YOUR SCORECARD" on the underside of the bill of your visor or cap or tattoo it on the back of your hand. It's not that difficult.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:43 AM on July 22

The rules of golf probably change more frequently than the rules of any other sport - I can't think of another sport where all players (at whatever level) are encouraged by the official body to carry a copy of the rules with them while they play. The R&A (and the USGA I believe) publish a book - Decisions on the Rules of Golf - every season to help people interpret the rules. I'd disagree that golf has been resistant to major tinkering. From the R&A website: As independent bodies The R&A and the United States Golf Association have worked closely together since 1952 to produce a uniform code of rules so that wherever the game is played the same laws apply. Every four years the two governing bodies agree any necessary amendments or clarifications and the main thrust of their work is in reviewing, revising and clarifying the rules so that they can be more easily understood and applied. Because of the complex nature of the game, one small change in the rules is rather like altering the shape of one piece of a jig-saw puzzle, affecting all the pieces that touch it. Proposed changes are discussed in detail with golf authorities in all parts of the world and when The R&A and USGA make their final decisions there has to be complete agreement on both sides. The abiding principle is always "are they for the good of the game?" Suggestions for simplifying the rules or making them more fair are always welcomed by The R&A. I think the end of the penultimate paragraph says it all - and it doesn't say "are they good for TV?" Televised golf represents a tiny percentage of the total amount of golf played in the world. TV shouldn't be allowed to get bigger than the game. If you start messing with the televised version of the game compared to the version the audience plays itself, I think you'd lose a lot of viewers.

posted by JJ at 09:50 AM on July 22

bender, I would guess if the penalty weren't a death penalty, there's not enough incentive to keep people from trying to bend the rules. If the only penalty is 1 or 2 strokes, why not try to beat the system? So you are implying that players are willing to try to cheat but that the penalty for not signing the card is somehow stopping them? I'm talking about someone who forgot to sign the card, not someone who was trying to cheat (at least that is my assumption considering that she went right back and signed it when she found out she had forgotten to do that). bender, the penalties are: Sign for a higher score than you actually made? The higher score stands, but there is no further sanction. Sign for a lower score than you actually made? Disqualification, whether it was an innocent mistake or a Vijay magic pencil moment. Fail to sign the card? Disqualification. For my money, that's all the rule can be. There is no attested record of your score if you didn't sign it. The whole leaving the tent before you signed it thing is an issue of where you draw the line as the tournament organiser. They drew a line at the door of the tent and she crossed it *shrug*. I'm with you on the first two points; those seem reasonable. Disqualification for forgetting to sign the card is just too harsh to me. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. They drew a line at the door of the tent and she crossed it. Then she went back and signed the same card she would have if she hadn't forgotten. *shrug*

posted by bender at 11:35 AM on July 22

I'm talking about someone who forgot to sign the card, not someone who was trying to cheat But you can't talk about that group as though the other doesn't exist. Ease up on the rules because of good people who make a mistake and you're also easing up on bad people who cheat.

posted by yerfatma at 02:17 PM on July 22

But you can't talk about that group as though the other doesn't exist. Ease up on the rules because of good people who make a mistake and you're also easing up on bad people who cheat. But I'm not advocating changing the rules so that they don't punish cheaters. Only change the rule that says that you are disqualified if you forget to sign your card to allow you to sign it later. If people are going to try to cheat, they are going to do it whether this rule is in place or not. Those two things are not related.

posted by bender at 02:46 PM on July 22

If I can jump in with my point again, I don't have a problem with the rule, but with the way the rule was enforced. Wie should have been ejected immediately after crossing the magic pixie line outside the tent. The fact that the LPGA volunteer didn't know that she'd done something that would result in a DQ - or, if they did, didn't make any effort to report it - is a big issue and is what makes the LPGA look bush league here. Timely enforcement of the rules is the responsibility of the LPGA. It is embarrassing to the LPGA that they let Wie tee up the second day thinking she was still in contention. While forgetting to sign the scorecard reflects poorly on Wie, she has otherwise handled this situation with sportsmanship and maturity. I'm not sure that the LPGA has.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:23 PM on July 22

And I'm going to jump in with my point again as well, which is quite simply that capabilities exist in the game as it stands today (at least in the major tours) to ensure that the results of tournaments are determined by what actually happens on the course as opposed to clerical errors, and that's what golf should be striving for. Even if the players aren't complaining about it, it runs contrary to the whole point of sport, i.e. the best player wins. I'm all for punishing cheaters, but it is so simple to take the entire opportunity to "cheat" out of the players' hands in this case that it makes no sense that it hasn't been done long ago, aside from adherence to silly "traditions" which serve no purpose at that level. It just seems like a complete vacation of common sense to me. But apparently others disagree.

posted by TheQatarian at 05:01 PM on July 22

One other thing on the "How do you determine the cheaters from the people making innocent mistakes?" question: It's pretty clear that the mistakes golfers at this level make are just that as opposed to trying to cheat, because quite frankly, you'd have to have the IQ of a pencil eraser to think you could get away with cheating at this level, given the number of other sources keeping track of your score. Any player who even tried to cheat would obviously get busted immediately, so why even try?

posted by TheQatarian at 05:14 PM on July 22

What TheQatarian said. It's not the notion of the individual keeping score or the signing of the card and some penalty that's problematic. It's that A) The PGA and LPGA don't have trained people on hand at the final tent to ensure that there are no clerical errors. This is the highest level of a professional league, not a few people duffing it on a weekend. This doesn't require dozens of people, just one or two who will take a few minutes with the players to ensure they've completely filled their card, that they've signed the right places, and that it's been turned in correctly. And since there seems to be an official score, they could guide the player in verifying that they are attesting their score is correct, and noting/helping resolve any discrepancies. Why, exactly, does it 'prevent cheating' to have someone simply point out to Wie that she didn't sign her form before letting her leave? It's like an assistant to make sure no one gets DQed for this kind of stuff. Not signing isn't cheating at all- there's zero advantage, and death-penalty disadvantage. So again, not signing is merely a clerical error, a hair-splitting waste of time that has no real effect on the actual game being played. It really is the same kind of bullshit that Ken Starr was famous for. B) The fact that Wie did sign the card, with the correct score, it's just a question of how quickly the volunteer managed to catch up with her. If the volunteer was quicker, they would have caught Wie before she crossed the magic pixie line. So now Wie's participation in the event hinges on whether the volunteer was a sprightly 18-year-old or a lumbering 70-year-old? This is, again, where the spirit of the rule wasn't broken, only the letter of the rule. Wie wrote the right score, she signed the card.

posted by hincandenza at 06:13 PM on July 22

The fact that Wie did sign the card, with the correct score, it's just a question of how quickly the volunteer managed to catch up with her. If the volunteer was quicker, they would have caught Wie before she crossed the magic pixie line. So now Wie's participation in the event hinges on whether the volunteer was a sprightly 18-year-old or a lumbering 70-year-old? This is, again, where the spirit of the rule wasn't broken, only the letter of the rule. Wie wrote the right score, she signed the card. Hal, you can't blame the volunteer. The letter of the rule has to mean something. Like Witters explained, the players can't go out for dinner and then come back and sign their card. There has to be a cut off as to when a card is officially turned in. In this point it was official when Wie, left the magic pixie line. Liken it to baseball, if you hit one over the fence, you still have to touch home plate. Stupid? Maybe. Also, as JJ explained, you cannot put scoring in the hands of anyone but the player and his/her partner. It isn't feasible and it will change the game. Furthermore, my worry would be that if you put in a referee (and the more I think about it, I reckon you'd need more not fewer people than I originally estimated), then golf starts to lean toward being like most other sports where deceiving the referee isn't frowned upon, but actually lauded and rewarded. In golf, the rules must be self enforced. You can call it hogwash but it really is simply part of the game. If I ground my club and the ball moves 1/2" and no one else saw it, it is my responsibility to count that as a stroke. That is part of what golf is about. If the game started being taught that it was a referee, umpire or volunteer's responsibility to catch those infractions...well, it just wouldn't be golf. In baseball, I'd grin a little if I threw a "strike" that was 4" outside. That's just how it goes. If I didn't count a stroke because my partner couldn't tell that I was actually 6" out of bounds...I wouldn't have been able to sleep.

posted by tselson at 11:27 PM on July 22

I wasn't blaming the volunteer, I was pointing out that the rule must be patently stupid if the speed of the volunteer (in reaching Wie a few steps sooner) would have changed this entire outcome. That's like saying Tiger Woods loses a Major because the refreshment cart vendor ran out of Snapple. You golf-fans keep using an example of honesty when it comes to things like strokes and scoring, but that's not what we've been talking about. Yes, along with the proud tradition of institutionalized racism, golf can add a legacy of unerring personal ethics (rolls eyes). But that's a slippery straw man argument; we aren't talking about the scoring of strokes. We're talking about a half-million dollar first place check that's suddenly out of reach because you walked a step too far in signing the card. Wie, again, signed the card. She didn't go have dinner, she turned right around, signed it, and played a full round the next day... which got tossed afterwards. There is literally no way for you to not see that as incredibly asinine unless you are so beholden to the mythos of golf that you can't think straight. The spirit is that she finished the round, signed the card (she was mere feet outside the tent), and played the next round. Again, since you obviously haven't done so, please read up on the Pine Tar Incident. The rules violation was there, but the league wisely recognized that it was not a rules violation of meaning, and overruled the umpire's call; they understood the outcome of the game shouldn't hinge on a decades old rule that was questionable at best. Similarly, the PGA and LPGA should let these things stand, or better ensure they don't happen by having the tour official (or apparently "volunteer") double check their work before letting them leave the tent. I'm not asking for radical changes, just for one golf supporter to explain why the [L]PGA wouldn't have the one or two people in the final tent to guide the players to prevent such a thing. Imagine if the Superbowl results got changed the following Monday evening when it was revealed that one of the players had an unpaid parking ticket from 1993. Or the World Series getting tossed a week later because video revealed someone's stirrups weren't pulled up far enough. In baseball, you do have to touch homeplate- and you'll probably have a couple of teammates standing at home who will frantically point to home and shouting at you to make sure you touch it if you somehow miss it (which is, I believe, pretty much what happened with Wie). And if you do miss home plate and make it all the way back to the dugout, you're still credited with a triple followed by an out- you aren't thrown out of the game, nor does the inning much less game even end.

posted by hincandenza at 03:01 AM on July 23

You golf-fans keep using an example of honesty when it comes to things like strokes and scoring, but that's not what we've been talking about. Yes, along with the proud tradition of institutionalized racism, golf can add a legacy of unerring personal ethics (rolls eyes). You know, Hal, even with the incredible amount of condescension you're throwing off, I was with you until you decided to trot out that line of bullshit. Could you explain what that has to do with the argument you're making, or is your argument so weak you have to play the race card when there's no racial issue on the table?

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:53 AM on July 23

Also, as JJ explained, you cannot put scoring in the hands of anyone but the player and his/her partner. It isn't feasible and it will change the game. Except that there's a gaping hole in this argument which I've been saying since the beginning of this thread: These people clearly already exist.

posted by TheQatarian at 08:57 AM on July 23

Except that there's a gaping hole in this argument which I've been saying since the beginning of this thread: These people clearly already exist. I get what you're saying, Qat (man, I wish my name was that hip), but there isn't a rules official standing over every single shot, watching whether the ball rolls or moves. It's a self-reporting system, and to take away some of the responsibility of a player in such a system, I think you have to take away all of it. With the way golf works, I just don't think that's possible, and I'd rather stay as is as opposed to turning it all over to skycams and a "catch me if you can" mentality.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:13 PM on July 23

Hal - I'm not sure if a straw man argument is better or worse for being slippery, but either way, it seems ironic for you to use the expression before building one of your own, and then tossing in a racial red herring for good measure. The only person who keeps talking about honesty is you. You've pre-empted an argument that no one has made. I agree with you that the punishment does not seem to fit the crime here, but I don't think the margin by which a rule is broken is relevant. The lines have to be drawn in any sport (and are necessarily artificial), and the crossing of them has to be penalised or they have no meaning. Wie crossed the line, so she's out. The rule was the same for everyone else, and they managed to avoid falling foul of it. You can argue, and I'd agree, that the line in this case was drawn in an unnecessarily tight way, but once it's drawn you can't go making exceptions arbitrarily because it's Wie, or because it's anyone else in contention, or because the person went back and did what they should have done in the first place. You don't get a second go at any of the putts you missed, so why should you get a second go at signing your card? I also agree that the LPGA should have officials (not volunteers) overseeing the card signing process, and that players shouldn't be released from the tent until they have signed their cards (in every tournament I ever played - from mid-ranking amateur events to European Tour - this was the case). (It's hip to be) Qat - Those people don't exist. The scorers that walk with each group are merely observers sending their observations of scores back to the scoreboard people and the TV people. Their records can be used (by players or officials) to cross check scores, but at the end of the round, it's the players' own records that stand. The rules official is there more as a lawyer than a judge. If, as a player, you're unsure of how to proceed, he can advise you, and if he witnesses you break a rule, he can inform you that you have, but he doesn't penalise you - he tells you that you must penalise yourself. As wfrazerjr said, it's just not possible for a third person to referee with anything like the same degree of accuracy, and to impose that would be to risk introducing the "catch me if you can" mentality (perfect description). Two best rules official moments: 1) Faldo's ball comes to rest on a spectator's bag. The official informs him (wrongly) that he must drop it (instead of placing it). Faldo tells the rules official he's wrong. The rules official won't budge. Faldo: "OK, fine, but what's the position if you are wrong, but I do what you tell me instead of what the rules say?" Official: "Mr Faldo, today, I am the rules." I'm told he never refereed again. 2) Feherty is denied a drop he should have been entitled to by a(nother) misguided rules official. He accepts the ruling, but in the heated exchange that follows asks: "What would happen if I called you an asshole?" The rules official says he'd be fined. "What about if I just thought it?" The rules official concedes there's not much he could do about that. "Fine. In that case, I think you're an asshole." [warning: Feherty might have stolen this story about himself, just like most of the rest of his decent lines]

posted by JJ at 09:59 AM on July 24

Okay, the racial thing was over the line, in retrospect. I was heatedly trying to make the point that rules and tradition do change, so the appeal to "that's just how it is" isn't somehow inviolable. At least, I can see that you agree it's kind of a silly rule, and I didn't know that in other tournaments they do exactly what I'm talking about: having an official at the end tent to oversee the process. The LPGA didn't have that in this case, and as Joey says may have handled it somewhat poorly. I suppose we (I?) have beaten this horse into an unrecognizable pulp. However, it was worth it for that Feherty anecdote (although I think I've heard variations in baseball). :)

posted by hincandenza at 04:01 PM on July 24

The scoring system is a pain in the ass, not so much for the players, but for the organisers (who would never want to catch anyone out - least of all the most talked about female player of the millennium when she's shaping up to win their tournament), so I'm honestly sure that if they could find a better way to do it, they would. And I hope what happened might inspire some revision of the procedure to avoid a repeat. Golf has plenty of arcane traditions, many of which the governing bodies cling to for no other reason than "tradition" but that I feel could be axed or amended to the benefit of the game and its audience. However, writing down your scores on a card that you then have to sign isn't one of them. It's a neat resolution. Feherty's best was when he was asked just how good Tiger is: "People have accused me of being so far up Tiger's arse that he can barely make a full swing, but I maintain that he is a special person. There's no one else on the planet who can do what he does or even thinks of doing what he does. I've often thought, instead of showing Tiger's reaction to a shot he's hit, we really should show the reaction of those around him. But here is the next best thing. I'm walking down the 18th fairway at Firestone Country Club with Ernie Els and Tiger, who has popped up a three-wood about 40 yards behind Ernie into some wet, nasty, horrible, six-inch rough. "Tiger's cursing and taking clumps out of Ohio with his three-wood. And, of course, we're not showing this on TV because we want to be able to interview him later. Ernie and I walk past Tiger's ball, and it is truly buried. Ernie is tied with Tiger and he's in the middle of the fairway. I'm standing with Ernie and my microphone is open. Ken Venturi [in the CBS booth] sends it to me and I say, 'Tiger's got 184 yards with two big red oaks overhanging the green. He's got absolutely nothing. With a stick of dynamite and a sand wedge I might be able to move this ball 50 yards.' "Steve Williams [Woods' caddie] tells me [with a hand signal] that he's using a pitching wedge. Tiger takes his swing. Every muscle in his body is flung at the ball. It looks like he's torn his nutsack. The divot went as far as I could have hit the ball. I've got my microphone at my mouth thinking, what the hell was that! "The ball sails over the trees, lands behind the hole and backs up to about six feet from the flag. I open my microphone and Ernie turns and says, 'Fuck me!' "My producer comes on in my earpiece and says, 'Was that Ernie?' I say yes. He says, 'Fair enough.' "I could have described that shot for 15 minutes and not done as good a job as Ernie did with two words. This is the second best player in the world talking. You wanna know how good Tiger is? Ask Ernie Els."

posted by JJ at 06:14 PM on July 24

That is an awesome story.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:43 PM on July 24

Cripes, we should start a thread just so JJ can regale us with great golf stories. :)

posted by hincandenza at 08:37 PM on July 24

That's the Internet's golf story. I just stole it. Feherty was the assisstant pro for a brief spell at the course I grew up playing. I don't remember him working there, but I do remember him coming back to see his old boss after he (Feherty) contended in the Open in 1989. He had started the final day three off the pace but at one point I think shared the lead with Grady. He then went to hell and ended up finishing 6th (Calc beat Grades and Norman in the Open's first ever four-hole playoff). Feherty never really featured in a major again, and I'm not surprised. A week after it happened, as he sat in the shop at my course, he said: "Lots of people say they play the game for the feeling you get when you're in contention coming down the stretch in a major, but that feeling's horrific. I didn't know whether I was going to throw up or shit myself. I wanted to do both just to get that feeling out of me. In the end all I had to do was make a couple of bogeys and I started to feel better. If you like that feeling, there's something very wrong with you. I never want to feel like that again." Man, I wish my job interested me as much as this inane rambling does.

posted by JJ at 04:40 AM on July 25

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