It is always crazy when golfers are penalized or DQ’ed from a tournament because some replay shows that the player committed some unknown infraction.
Yes, we understand that the hallmark of the sport is the integrity of the game. And we understand that if you don’t have the strong DQ rules for signing an incorrect scorecard that it could provide an incentive for players (or their playing partners) to “ignore” a violation.
But somehow it seems very unjust when there are situations like the one Dustin Johnson had in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits or the one that caused Camilo Villegas to be DQ’ed from the tour’s opening event. Villegas was only disqualified after a TV viewer noted the violation which allegedly occured when Villegas flicked away some grass as his ball rolled backwards after failing to reach the top of the green.
Villegas was chipping up the slope to the 15th green when the ball twice rolled back toward him. The second time, Villegas walked over and casually swatted away some loose pieces of grass in front of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope.
That is a violation of Rule 23-1 that says, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.” The penalty is two shots. Villegas opened with a 72, and he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
The question the tour is facing now is how to deal with the situation where only some of the players get TV coverage, meaning that the rules are really not being applied equally to everyone in the field.
One suggestion circulated included a “statute of limitations” which would have provided that a certain amount of time could apply, but not to have the videotape reviewed causing overnight DQ’s.
With the growth of technology and monitoring, the PGA Tour is going to have to find an equitable solution for how it handles these situations.