Monday, July 29, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur Wrap-Up

   Well, a great week in Truckee is completely over and it's back to the grind.  Not that I'm complaining, today I am working a US Amateur Qualifying at Pasatiempo...Not a bad place to be either.  But there is the unfinished business of my round as an observer for the semi-final match, and the most untimely Rules situation I believe in US Junior Amateur history.
   On Friday, I was one of two observers in the semi-final match between John Augenstein and Davis Riley.  The round went without much ado until the 13th hole.  Much like my first round as an observer where Ryan Gregg snapped a great shot of me running up the side of the 13th hole, I took the high position and ran up to see if any balls entered the water hazard ESA and sure enough, one did.  It was again in by only an inch but because the hazard was an ESA, he was not allowed to play the ball from that position.  I confirmed that the ball was in the ESA and that the drop zone was an option, and David Staebler also confirmed that the 26-1a and b options were also available.  Augenstien chose to use the drop zone.
   Riley ended up wining the match on the 15th hole, once again saving me from having to rush up the hill to the 16th green.  But in the finals, Riley had one of the most admirably handled and most untimely Rules situation occur on the final hole of the match.
    Riley was on the wrong end of a comeback by eventual champion Scheffler when 2 down on the 16th hole he was staring down a putt for birdie.  His ball was against the fringe and he noticed the ball move after he had addressed it.
   He was the only one who noticed and he immediately called over the referee for the match, Skip Gist, who confirmed it was a one-stroke penalty and the ball had to be replaced.  Unfortunately that pretty much sealed his fate.  At that point, he could've halved the hole and still had a chance to win 17 and 18 to force extra holes, but the stroke penalty led to an easy lag putt by Scheffler whose par putt was conceded for the hole and the match.
   Scheffler had played stellar golf throughout the week and was a deserving champion.  I would like to thank a few people who contributed to a wonderful week for me.  First, thank you to Greg Sanfilippo, the USGA staff person in charge, for the invitation and for a wonderful event.  To the Martis Camp staff led by Gus Jones who were truly gracious hosts.  To Skip Gist and other members of the US Junior Amateur Championship Committee for allowing me to be a part of this great championship on the official side of things.  It was very special for me to be a part of the championship that led to so many great things in my own junior golf career - Thank you all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur - Round of 16

This was definitely an interesting day at the US Junior Amateur.  We had not one, but two suspensions for lightening in the area.  The first suspension was simple for my group – we hadn’t teed off yet!  
Players Were Permitted to Practice Prior to the First Resumption of Play, the Putting Green of the Hole Last Played for that Group
           The second suspension was relatively easy to figure out as it happened while the group was between holes.  We went to our evacuation point, shelter 1, which was a bus between the 7th green and 8th tee.  We sat and waited for the updates to come through.  It was actually kind of fun.  During the suspension, in keeping with the theme of observers seeing more of the match in front than their own, I had a nice conversation with the kids from the match in front, Sam Horsfield and Aaron Terrazas.
In "Shelter 1" Waiting for News on the Weather
            Seeing the USGA at work during the suspension was also a great experience.  The communication between the staff and the referees, role call prior to the restart and the countdown was all familiar territory for me.  Sometimes its nice to be able to see tournament administration in progress without being the person in charge.
Prior to the Second Resumption Players Could Not Practice.  Sam Horsfield (red shorts) did some Jumping Jacks to Loosen Up
            We also had to suspend play for darkness as our match was still all square through 14 holes.  We completed the hole so it was not necessary for the players to mark their golf balls. Play resumes at 7:00 AM on the 15th tee.
            On the 13th hole, the first playing rules situation occurred when Samiere (my match was between PJ Samiere and Nick Heinen) hit his tee shot into an ESA water hazard.  It was interesting because there was also a lateral water hazard ESA right nearby.  Why does that matter?  Well, there was a drop zone available for a ball in the regular water hazard ESA, but not available if the ball was in the lateral water hazard ESA.  As the observer I informed my referee (Ted Antonopolous, head professional at Mayacama) that the ball was in the ESA and that the drop zone was available.  He confirmed with me that the ball was in the water hazard and not the lateral water hazard.  The question also arose about the player retrieving the ball.  I was standing next to David Staebler whose response on the radio was actually talked over: “There’s no penalty under the Rules of Golf, but you might be breaking the law!”  Although local Rules for ESA’s constantly include a clause that prohibits entering an ESA, there is only a penalty under the Rules of Golf if a player plays the ball from within an ESA or while having interference from an ESA. 
            On the final hole played, we also had some interesting what ifs.  Samiere’s tee shot had plugged in the face of the bunker.  What if they decided to discontinue play at that time, which was their option?  He would have to mark the position of the ball, or leave it in place and if the ball or lie was disturbed during course prep in the morning or overnight, the lie would have to be re-created. That would’ve been hard to do.  Then Staebler made a funny comment that Samiere should’ve aimed to hit his opponents bag.  In match play, if a player hits his opponent’s equipment he has the right to cancel the stroke and replay.  Had that occurred, Samiere would have dropped the ball in the bunker and it would not have come to rest within two club-lengths because of where it had to be dropped.  He would then place the ball after the re-drop also rolled too far and it wouldn’t have stayed in place.  He would then place the ball at the nearest spot in the bunker not nearer the hole where the ball would come to rest…likely a flat lie and a relatively easy bunker shot.  As it was Samiere hit a great shot and made an even better putt to save par from an almost impossible situation.  Boy these kids are good!


       The round of 16 is now complete.  Samiere won the first three holes of the morning to win 3 and 1.  It was actually quite impressive as the match play score reads - eagle, eagle, birdie.  I now get to rest through the quarterfinals and return to action as an observer in the second semi-final match led by The Voice, John Reis and the Committee Chairman Skip Gist.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur - Round of 64

            Today was the first round of match play at the US Junior Amateur. I also had my first match play assignment as the observer for Ryan Gregg (who is now my boss as Director of Rules and Competitions at the NCGA).  Our match had two quality players, Alvaro Ortiz and Brad Dalke. 
            The observer’s job is actually more complete than simply spotting.  I am responsible for forward crowd control in case spectators from the match in front are lagging behind, noting any potential rules situations that may arise for the referee and to determine which player is away.  At the first green, Ryan held me back and we developed a signal for me to tell him who was away on each shot.
            As an observer you don’t get to follow the match you’re with very well because once the balls are around the putting green, you have to get into position on the next hole for the tee shots.  So I never knew how the match was going except for checking the scores online on my phone.  As an observer you do, however, get to watch the match in front of you quite well:

John Augenstein in the first match hits his approach to #1.  Match Play was underway!

            The  “who’s away” signal turned out to be pretty cool for the players, because they didn’t know it was happening.  Ryan told me afterward he kept telling them who was away after their drives and approaches from long distances and into blind greens and they couldn’t figure out how he did it! Truthfully, our players made it quite easy on me because they were rarely in any trouble and almost always in the fairway.  In fact, the only time there was any real spotting to do I nearly got hit as Alvaro’s tee shot on the ninth hole drove right through the empty space previously occupied by my head as I ran back from the wayward shot.  It bounced off the cart path and I was able to spot it as it rattled around the woods into a playable (albeit not toward the hole) position.
            Being an observer can be a great workout though, because in order to get into position to spot for hazards, there were times I had to move very quickly.  Ryan got a great shot of me running on the 13th hole so that I could get into position to spot a ball in the hazard without disrupting play.

Now that's effort! I run to get into position as the preceding match walks off the green.

            The one disappointing thing was that there were no rulings to write about.  The closest thing to a ruling came on the final hole.  Alvaro’s ball laid on the putting green, but part on the fringe as well.  His feet were very close if not standing on a sprinkler head next to the green.  Had he asked for relief, or even asked if his ball was on the green, there was the potential for a relief situation where the ball could be placed off the putting green. But he never asked.
            The best part of the match was that it ended on the 15th hole.  Which meant that I didn’t have to run up the hill to the 16th green or even worse up to the 17th hole.  Those walks are two of the three toughest hills on the course.  In the end Dalke won 4 & 3, shooting -2 thru 15 holes. 
            Tomorrow I will be the observer in the final match of the day in the round of 16.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur Round 2

    Today was an eventful day as it was my first official assignment as a referee for a USGA championship.  I went with the 12:35 grouping off tee #1 and by the first green I already was involved.  A player had a questionable mark on his line of putt and proceeded to ask a fellow-competitor if it was a ball mark.  His fellow-competitor was not sure, but thought it was a spike mark so the player asked the other fellow-competitor.  He wasn't sure but was thinking it may be a scuff mark.  By this time I had made my way around the green (never walk on the green unless necessary) to examine the mark.  From my playing experience I could clearly tell it was a previously repaired ball mark and let the player know he could repair it or tap it down more if he wished.
     And then on the second hole I had my only true ruling of the day, although there were two other minor situations.
    The player's ball came to rest next to the cart path such that it was clear that the lip of the path interfered with his follow through (area of intended swing).  He started looking at an area about a full club-length away as his nearest point of relief so I pointed out his actual NPR which was a mere 3 inches or so from the original spot.  He measured his club-length backwards and asked if he could remove the stones around the area before dropping.  I explained that he could, provided they were loose and not embedded.  That comment required elaboration under the circumstances so I explained that if there was any resistance when trying to remove a rock he needed to leave it be.  After clearing the area of pebbles and rocks, his first drop rolled closer to the hole than his NPR.  His re-drop rolled into a position that still had interference from the path and I pointed to the spot where the re-drop first struck the course and he placed it.
    Later in the round, one of the other player's struck a poor tee shot on the par-3 17th hole which struck the rocks and bounced backwards into bad country. Because the ball could be lost, he hit a provisional into the middle of the green. I told the player that he should let me know if he wanted me to look for it because if he found it, the provisional had to be abandoned.  He explained he would take a brief look in areas that he could benefit from finding it but otherwise did not want to look in the deep rocks and bushes.  He didn't see it after his brief search and played his provisional.
   The only other ruling of the day was at the third hole, and it wasn't much of a ruling as the player proceeded without advice.  He had hit his tee shot into the water hazard guarding the green and proceeded directly to the drop zone.  His drop rolled slightly closer to the hole in the drop zone and he gave a brief glance at me to which I gave the thumbs up.  And that was that.
   It was a relatively uneventful day for rulings but it was a fantastic experience nonetheless.  I got to experience the USGA "Call-Up" Policy on the drivable 16th hole, including the dialogue and details needed to determine whether a call-up was necessary.  One of the two players who went for it actually did drive the green and made birdie!  (That same player had reached the 602 yard 10th hole in two earlier in the round).  I also saw the USGA's 4-checkpoint system at work.  My group finished only 1 minute over the set time-par and that was only because we were waiting on the group in front of us who had numerous situations over the last 3 holes (we were 7 minutes under pace walking off the 15th green).

    I do need to follow up from the Rules question in my previous post.  The situation received a lot of discussion and eventually we received the final ruling from the USGA, both at Golf House and on-site at the US Junior Amateur.  The ruling is reversed (please read previous post as I will not re-print the entire situation).  The ruling is that when a player drops (but does not play) a ball under an inapplicable Rule and then finds his original, 20-6 applies and he must pick up the improperly substituted ball and proceed with the original.  In other rulings that had led to the previous article's decision, the player had played the ball dropped under an inapplicable Rule.  Once the player plays a ball dropped under an inapplicable Rule, the Committee must determine the Rule that applied to the situation.  When the ball has not been played, it has been dropped "otherwise not in accordance with the Rules" and the error may be corrected under Rule 20-6.
    Just remember that even simple questions may be far more complicated than the initial appearance.  The discussion over this ruling lasted two days and bounced back and forth between the two outcomes several times before we reached this conclusion.  Fun stuff!
  And PS:  For all NCGA officials you may be interested to know that Pace of Play dominates the USGA airwaves as well...

Live from Martis Camp: US Am Qualifying

    Unfortunately there isn't much to report from Schaffer's Mill on the Rules front.  The day went fairly well, except for a bit of a water shortage in middle of the second round.  The pace for the day was set at 4:52 due to some lengthy walks between holes and the layout of the course.  Only one group finished over pace in the first round, and every group finished more than 20 minutes ahead of pace in the second round.
    The best part of the day was our medalist.  Bryson Dechambeau shot 67-65 to lead the field by 6 strokes and tie the course record.  We had a 3-for-2 playoff at -4 (138) that ended after one hole with two pars and a bogey.
    One of the best Rules questions of the day was a hypothetical posed by one of our tournament officials.  Broken into general terms the question basically was: A player cannot find his ball and proceeds as if a native area of grass is a lateral water hazard.  He drops and within five minutes of beginning to search, but prior to playing the dropped ball he finds the original.  What should he do?
    The answer was complicated by the fact that the player had proceeded under an inapplicable Rule.  Was it an improperly substituted ball in which case the original ball was not lost until a stroke is made at the substituted ball (see Definition of Lost Ball), or was the player required to proceed under stroke and distance and therefore the original was lost once the ball was dropped?
    The answer can be found by reading Decision 34-3/6 in the explanation of Decision 25-1c/2.  When a player proceeds under an inapplicable Rule it is the Committee's job to determine the applicable Rule. At the time the ball was dropped, the original had not been found and therefore the only applicable Rule was 27-1.  As 27-1 applied the dropped ball was dropped in a wrong place under stroke and distance.  Therefore the original ball was lost once the substituted ball was dropped.  The hypothetical player was required to correct his error under Rule 20-6 by putting a ball properly into play from where the previous stroke was made (stroke and distance).  He could not continue with the original ball.
   Go ahead and sleep on that one.
   Tomorrow I have my first official assignment at the Junior Amateur.  I'm excited to get out on the course and do one of the most fun jobs we have as tournament administrators.  My players shot 74, 74 and 79 today so there is some serious game in my grouping and I'm hoping to witness some pretty darn good golf in addition to fulfilling my role as a referee.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tiger's Drop...Oh By the Way

    I don't know who noticed, but early in today's final round of the Open Championship Tiger took relief.  The R & A, believe it or not, implemented the "two-and-two" local Rule for immovable obstructions by the putting green.  Players were entitled to relief if an obstruction within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of their ball intervened on their line of play.  This was the case for Tiger and he was entitled to drop the ball through the green at his nearest point of relief.
   If you were watching carefully, you would have counted THREE drops.  Uh oh you might say.  But first, he was operating under the instruction of the walking referee.  So why did he drop the ball three times?  Even golfers inexperienced int he Rules have heard that you drop the ball, re-drop the ball and then place it.  A third drop needs an explanation.  Well here it is:
   Tiger's first drop rolled closer to the hole.  He was required to re-drop under Rule 20-2c.  The referee determined that Tiger's re-drop actually struck the course closer to the hole than his nearest point of relief.  This was an improper drop and Tiger was required to correct the error under Rule 20-6 by dropping in the correct spot.  He did so and that third drop also rolled closer to the hole than his nearest point of relief so he then placed the ball at the spot where it first struck the course.
    So yes, once again Tiger had a relief situation that didn't look quite right...but it was...

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur Preview

            This week I have the privilege of working the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Martis Camp in Truckee, California.  I am an invited official and will walk with groups on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  This experience is extremely special for me for several reasons.  First, this is my first USGA championship as an official and I’m extremely excited to have been invited to work as a referee and observer.  In my line of work, it doesn’t get much better.  Secondly, I am now twelve years removed from my own USGA championship experience.  In 2001, I qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur and the event changed my golf career for the better in so many ways.  There really is no championship experience that is any better for a junior golfer.  It is an honor for me to give back to the championship that I so greatly benefitted from in my own junior career.
            This year’s site is Martis Camp.  Martis Camp is a unique experience in and of itself.  I will preview the week in the following article and will continue to update everyone throughout the week.

The Junior Amateur Experience

            I arrived on Friday and beginning preparing for the week.  In the days that followed I made my way around the course to become familiar with the various situations that could occur, and to figure out the best way to walk the course.  Tonight, however, were two special events (at least for me) that sum up the championship experience. 
            First was the Rules meeting.  For NCGA Championships we prepare with a brief meeting for officials on the morning of the event.  We covered various procedures including pace of play, discontinuance of play and TIO’s.  I did not realize how little experience I really had with TIOs until this briefing.  If I am lucky (or unlucky) enough to have TIO rulings I will be sure to share.
            The best part of the evening was the player’s dinner.  Twelve years ago I was on the player’s side of this wonderful experience.  At the opening of the dinner the player’s arrive in a processional led by a bagpiper to a standing ovation from the entire Committee, family and guests.  It is truly amazing and I caught a small video of it for everyone here:

The Course

            I don’t think any of my pictures can truly do this venue justice. 

The 3rd Hole - Includes One of Two Drop Zones on the Course

The course is in absolutely immaculate condition and will be a true test of golf for the best juniors in the world. 
Walking Up the 5th Hole

A View of the 9th Hole

There are all kinds of various situations out there, including environmentally-sensitive areas, rock trench obstructions, TIOs and of course – television cables.

ESA on the 12th Hole

The Assignment

            For those that will follow the blog my week is currently scheduled as follows:

Monday – Running US Amateur Qualifying at nearby Schaffer’s Mill.  I will blog about interesting rulings following the event.

Tuesday – Walking Referee with an afternoon grouping.

Wednesday – Walking observer with my boss as the referee in the Round of 64.

Thursday – Walking observer in the final match of the afternoon with “The Voice” as the referee.

Friday – Walking observer in the second semi-final match.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Open Championship Review

            At the start of this year it seemed incomprehensible that there would not be a Rules situation every single week of the golf season.  And yet, since Tiger infamously dropped his ball in a place that was a combination of two correct options (two wrongs don’t make a right, but two rights can make a wrong), with the exception of anchoring (don’t say another word), the Rules front has been fairly quiet.  So on the first full day of British Open week, we’ll review two major Rules incidents from last year’s Open Championship.

Paul Azinger and the “Clowns”

            ‘Zinger is a fine golfer and is typically a pretty fair and practical analyst, but where he goes astray is with the Rules.  He really just doesn’t know when to let the experts handle it.  So when Tiger’s ball on the sixth hole found the greenside bunker in a nearly impossible position he suggested emphatically that Tiger should take an unplayable and drop the ball outside the bunker.  Those of us who do know the Rules were quick to correct him, including a large portion via Twitter (including myself).  He maintained his position that Tiger could drop outside the bunker for a good 30 minutes including a side comment about “a bunch of clowns” on Twitter who think they’re experts.

            Well, those experts were right.  Under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable), when a player’s ball lies in the bunker, the only option the player has to get outside the bunker is to proceed under stroke an distance (Rule 28a).  Rules 28b and 28c require that the ball be dropped in the bunker.

            Azinger was confusing Rule 28 with another Rule that was applicable in certain circumstances that week, Rule 25-1b.  Because of the rains, there was plenty of standing water in the bunker.  Under Rule 25-1b, when a player has interference from an abnormal ground condition (burrowing animal hole, casual water or ground under repair), the player has an additional option of dropping outside the bunker on a line that keeps the point where the ball originally lay between the dropped ball and the flagstick, under penalty of one stroke.  A player had opted to drop in such a fashion earlier in the day so it was fairly reasonable for Azinger to make that mistake.  This year, I hope, Azinger will just let Peter Dawson do the talking…

Adam Scott’s Moving Ball

            On the seventh hole of the final round, Adam Scott had hit his approach just long of the green at the top of a fairly steep slope.  He took several practice swings near the ball, walked away and about t10-20 seconds later the ball began to roll down the hill.  As Scott had not addressed the ball, the applicable Rule was 18-2a.  The Rules Official had to determine whether Scott had caused the ball to move or if it had started to move on its own.  Azinger also chimed in here claiming that a previous similar ruling had gone against him earlier in his career (which is true) and that it was going to be a one-stroke penalty.  On air, Peter Dawson (Chief Rules Official for the R & A) agreed.

            The walking Rules Official with the group, after questioning Scott determined that he had NOT caused the ball to move and the ball was to be played from where it came to rest without penalty.  Rules officials across the globe were on the edge of their seats.  The ruling could honestly have gone either way.  The determination was made because there was a significant amount of time between Scott’s practice swings and when the ball began to move, even though the practice swings were taken relatively close to the position of the ball.  Had Scott won the Open, many would’ve looked back and questioned the official’s ruling.  Had he been penalized and Scott had lost, many would’ve questioned the ruling.  In the end, it was the right call and it did not have an effect on the outcome of the championship.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What Grinds Farb's Gears: The 100th Edition of FarbTalk

            I just finished reading Alex Myers’ ‘The Grind’ and Ryan Lavner’s ‘#AskLav’ and now it’s my turn.  This is the 100th Edition of FarbTalk, and you may have noticed a bit of delay in the writing of this post. 
            I was hoping some ridiculous Rules situation would occur over the past week or so, or that something other than anchoring in Golf News would take center stage, but it hasn’t happened.  So for my 100th post I’m going to hark back to Family Guy’s Peter Griffin for my golfer’s edition of “What Grinds My Gears.”

Talking About the Anchoring Ban

            It’s over, isn’t it?  Apparently not, because the discussion surrounding the anchoring ban has been dragged out once again by the PGA Tour and PGA of America’s posturing and darn near idiotic plea in their attempt to seem relevant to the Rules making process.  Let’s get it straight for the umpteenth time:  BOTH the PGA of America and the PGA Tour have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee.  They both knew this was coming before the comment period and before the announcement that the ban would go into effect.
            The representatives for these two organizations agreed with the Rules of Golf Committee in creating the new Rule and the hullaballoo (a great live album by Muse by the way) that ensued was pure nonsense.  If you ever wanted evidence that all public sports have political agendas, the reaction of the PGA/PGA Tour to the ban is it.  Notice the Euro Tour didn’t hesitate in backing the R & A. 
I was dead serious that I would have resigned as a PGA member had the PGA not gone along with the USGA, but I guess that will have to wait.
            So let’s move on.  If you want to anchor for another couple years, go right ahead.  It’s legal.  But come January 1, 2016 let’s just all agree to disagree, separate our hands and arms from our body and play this crazy game we love so much.

GPS Applications

            I have nothing against GPS apps for public golfers.  It’s great that $5 can get you the same information as a $350 laser rangefinder.  Here’s the catch:  if you are one of those companies selling the app STOP SAYING THAT THE APP IS LEGAL FOR TOURNAMENT PLAY.  I understand your intent, really, I do, but it is not the app that has to be legal - it’s the device the app is on.  And nearly all smart phones are not legal to use as distance-measuring devices (when DMD’s are permitted).  It is not a pleasant conversation to have to explain why Joe Net Player and his partner are both disqualified because he pulled out his smart phone GPS app instead of the laser rangefinder he already had.

The Pace of Play Pledge

            I rarely, rarely say anything against the USGA.  And I have to start by saying that the initiative to improve pace of play is extremely important and I’m glad they’re taking the lead.  I also appreciate Glen Nager separating the Opens from what players face for regular play.  Three times a year, the USGA hosts tournaments for men, women and seniors that are the toughest conditions those groups face all year.  He was right in saying that you cannot compare the Open setups to what is recommended for regular play.
            That said, a pace of play pledge?  Really?  Are we all five years old now?  Please go back to focusing on real action items and real educational tools for clubs and associations to help improve pace of play.  Perhaps explaining the various policies to the public and offering options for clubs to implement themselves.  Perhaps working with SRGA’s (State and Regional Golf Associations) to develop a paradigm for setting appropriate time pars for golf courses.  Perhaps anything but making the public feel like toddlers that need to sign a pledge to play faster.  WE WANT TO PLAY FASTER.  Help us play faster with action, not just words.

Rory vs. The Robot

            This is actually a positive note here.  If you haven’t seen this video from the European Tour CLICK PLAY RIGHT NOW.  It’s awesome and funny and the European Tour wins hands down for best commercial.  It even tops the Dick’s Sporting Goods Commercial with Tiger Woods as a sales clerk.

Natalie Gulbis Getting Married

            She did a very good job of keeping the relationship private for a good long while, but male golfer’s had their hearts broken with the announcement that Natalie Gulbis is officially off the market.  Many congratulations to her and her fiancĂ©, but don’t let it start a trend.  All of us guys still want to hang on to our silly dreams of marrying Paula Creamer, Sandra Gal or Stacy Lewis.

Tiger Getting Injured

            I’m sure he’s not trying to do it, but seriously stop hurting yourself Tiger!  You don’t have to be a fan of his to admit that golf is just much more interesting when he’s in contention.  The last thing I want is for this injury to end up like his knee and take him out of the running for another three years.  I wonder, has Tiger tried deer antler spray?

Bad-Mouthing US Open Setups

            Get used to it.  One tournament a year, the USGA defends par.  Whether they admit to that goal or not, that’s the result.  You can call it tricked up, ridiculous defense against distance advancement or whatever else you want, but come on – we all know what the US Open is.  So whether you prefer birdies or scrambling for par, when the US Open rolls around stop getting on the USGA’s case for making the course hard.  That’s what they do!  And in order to make a course actually difficult for players of that caliber, sometimes they border on or cross into the insanely difficult.  Last time I checked, the Predator Golf Course on Tiger Woods EA Sports game is also insanely difficult, but I have fun trying to get around it.  Sometimes it’s just about the challenge…

And last but not least:  Score Cards

            Fortunately, I did not have to make this ruling.  At the Stanford US Junior Amateur Qualifying last Monday, Brandon Mai turned in a score card that appeared to solidify one of four spots to the championship at Martis Camp.  He was over celebrating when one of the scoring officials handed the cards to a member of the Rules Committee who was going to run the cards to the scoreboard to be posted.  And then he looked down.  “I don’t want these,” the Committeeman said, “This one doesn’t have two signatures on it.”  Sure enough it was Mai’s second round card that he had failed to sign himself.
            Nothing in the Rules of Golf could help the Committee save Brandon from disqualification.  He had returned the score card without signing it and had left the scoring area for some ten minutes prior to the discovery of his misstep.  What was worse:  Mai is 17 years old and will not be eligible to try and qualify for the Junior Am next year.

            For most amateur events, the Rules regarding the score card make at least some sense.  There aren’t scoring officials with every group and your score isn’t public to the world on every hole as it is on the PGA Tour.  But we’re just trying to get the score right.  Is it not a little severe to disqualify someone for a momentary lapse?  Look, I defend and explain the Rules everyday and I understand why the Rules are the way they are, but I never like seeing a kid miss out on such a wonderful opportunity as the US Junior because after shooting the best two rounds he could at the time he needed to he was so flustered with excitement he just forgot to sign his name.
            I don’t know what can be done, and honestly I doubt this Rule will change any time soon, but maybe a two-stroke penalty for a failure to sign?  If you sign for a lower score you get a two-stroke penalty tacked on top of the score you should’ve had?  That seems severe enough to deter players from taking a lackadaisical approach to their score card duties, but light enough that it doesn’t overly penalize slight, momentary lapses.  And just think, Tiger would never have been subject to disqualification in the Masters if it weren't for that pesky score card...

Alright everyone.  I hope you all enjoyed a little insight into my own inquiring mind.  This completes the 100th post of FarbTalk and I will gladly cheers to hundreds more! 

Have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!  Happy Birthday America, and thank you to all the Servicemen and women that protect us every day.