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 fiancé, 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.


  1. My opinion is that like most "correction" scenarios, the problem is that it puts the burden on the committee to decide that his scorecard is correct even though unsigned.

    It's similar to the scenario where the kid puts "36" as his score for 18, when he clearly meant to put that in the "Out" box. The response is always, "why can't the committee just move the number over, do the math and put the correct score down for 18, or find the golfer and have him correct it?" Well, because the former would require a big and perhaps incorrect assumption of the committee, and the second might be unfair to someone else who turned in an incorrect scorecard but the committee either failed to try to find him or could not find him.

    Similarly, if the committee accepts the unsigned score and adds a 2-stroke penalty, they're making a big leap that the score was correct, just unsigned. If the scorecard is unsigned, it could easily be wrong. It certainly wouldn't be fair to the kid that was 3 strokes behind and would have been in had the committee not simply accepted the unsigned scorecard as correct and imposed a 2-stroke penalty. What if it's found out later that the actual score was 3 strokes higher than what was on the unsigned scorecard?

    As tough as these situations are, I think the only fair way to determine the player's returned score is to have the player be responsible for the recorded scores and the signing of the scorecard, as it is today. The penalty for missing a step is harsh, but having the committee making judgement calls on the correctness of an unsigned scorecard is unfair to the rest of the field.

    Just my less-informed-than-you, opinion.

    1. There's no easy solution to the issue, which is why it will not likely change. Perhaps just the ability to correct scores prior to the close of competition would eliminate the issue of signed vs. unsigned and determining the correct score. The issue is more prominent in the pros where walking scorers have a score for the player already after each hole. The score card seems redundant, but it is still part of the game.

  2. I think that part of the beauty of the game of golf is its etiquette. That there are things you just need to do, out of respect for the rules and respect for yourself. No matter how badly you did, no matter how great you did.

    It's just a good message about the game and the committees who facilitate a tournament that there are rules that are followed "for the good of the game". Like, observing proper scoring procedures. It's not about punishing someone after a great round, or denying someone their shot at the beginning of what might be a stupendous amateur and professional career. It's about the game, and how it is played, for the benefit of all players, at any level of play.

    I just watched on YouTube a clip from the 1969 Ryder Cup, with The Concession (Nicklaus and Jacklin). The commentator was so obsessed with counting strokes that he didn't immediately recognize the significance of Nicklaus picking up Jacklin's marker after holing his putt.

    But it wasn't lost on Jacklin. And one of the greatest moments of sportsmanship took place; in observance of the significance of rules and actions "for the good of the game". And, as sore as it may be, for a young person, that's a good thing to learn about life.

    A far cry from our "normal" obsession with the end results, such that we cry foul or look for hand-outs or feel entitled to things. One could say that he held on and kept focused on playing well for 18-holes; and one would wish that he had just five minutes more composure left in him to sign his scorecard, and bathe in the self-satisfaction of having seen the match through, from the tee to the scoring area.

    Again, a less-informed-than-you, opinion.