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Thursday
Oct102013

Eger's My Shot: "Ridley isn't my biggest fan."

Now that the opening day buzz has begun to wear off--actually that started last Thursday--we can get back to the stories that matter. Like, The Masters.

There has been a lot of reaction to David Eger's October, 2013 My Shot in Golf Digest. While many have focused on the obvious tension with Masters Chairman Fred Ridley and whether that is the reason Ridley ignored the evidence when he watched the replay before Tiger signed his scorecard.

I think come Masters time we'll revisit the details, but in the mean time Eger's take on phone-in rulings should not be lost in the analysis of the Ridley saga.

 THE FIRST REAL CASE OF CALL-INS from viewers was Paul Azinger moving some loose impediments with his foot in a water hazard at Doral in 1991. You get the evidence where you can, and it doesn't matter if players who happen to be on TV are exposed to greater scrutiny than players not on TV. The bottom line is that ignoring a violation because it happened on TV would not be a level playing field.

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Reader Comments (48)

Thought this was an interesting counterfactual for all the slow-play-fear-mongerers out there:

"AFTER CONTEMPLATING slow play during my long stints at the PGA Tour, in those endless meetings at the USGA and all the time since, I've concluded there is no solution. What people forget is that it's not a new problem. It's always been at crisis level. Jack Nicklaus was a slow player. Ben Hogan, by all accounts, was brutal. Dr. Cary Middlecoff, probably the best player of the 1950s, was terrible."
That left a mark.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
yeah neil, except that each generation is slower than the last.--Nicklaus at 4:30 was bad--today's tour pro at 5:00-5:30 worse.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGS Elevator
Stadller kneeling on the towel was first. Skee Rigle of Philadelphia made the call to the tour, he thought he was watching live coverage yet it was a replay from the prior day.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Allowing couch viewers to phone in a violation is a joke.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Ignoring any claim of a breach of rules is irresponsible. If any player breaches a rule, inadvertently or not, efforts must be made to protect the field. It is irrelevant if some players get more TV time than others. The rules of golf are not suppose to be “subjective calls” like they are in other sports.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterz-man
His comments directly attacking another golfer/administrator made me a little uncomfortable. He basically says Ridley is incompetent in the rules. I wonder if he's on thin ice as Masters rules honcho.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMedia driven
"Suspect"

Used by rules officials and the police. Love it!
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
As I've said here dozens of times before, Fred Ridley (and his buffoon pal Walt Driver) is exactly what;s wrong with the game. He's too smart to be declared incompetent, too shrewd to be negligent, and too arrogant to be acceptable. It is this type of sheer hubris that has poisoned Augusta National and the Golf House. Petey Dawson is only slightly "less-worse."

Ridley despises those who labor for honesty and the true spirit of the game. It's really quite sad he's risen to such a lofty perch in administrating it.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTalking Head
Phone-in rules violations are not accepted in football, baseball, tennis, track and field, etc. Why should golf be different?
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterotey
His years as a rules enforcer have given him a certain stature in his mind.

I was actually brought up short in the first paragraph by his explanation of how he got his amateur status returned to him -- after he'd been a PGA Tour pro for three years! He's not the only tour pro to have done that, of course. It still stinks. He brought to those amateur competitions an enormous advantage over his competitors. it's one thing for, say, a range pro to get his amateur state reinstated. But for a fully vetted tour pro to it? Grotesquely unfair.

But fairness is not always tops on this list with these guys, is it? I vividly remember how Paul Azinger got that penalty in '91. He had one foot in the water and got himself positioned before he making his swing. And that was, what, "building his stance"?
The Craig Stadler imbroglio was even more hilariously wrongheaded and unfair. But some guy could rifle through the rules book and get an "Ah hah!" moment. Like Eger's amateur reinstatement, fairness wasn't part of the deal.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
I haven't researched the details, but I recall Ridley was involved in another high profile rules imbroglio several years ago. Knowing nothing about nothing, I nonetheless tend to endorse Talking Head's view. Mr. Ridley should be benched.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
If one were protecting the field all players are subject to the same scrutiny. That's a level playing field. Of all you care about is getting rules right as often as possible, then you allow for viewer call-ins. But that's not protecting the field, that's creating an imbalanced field.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterElf
@otey,
Golf is very different than other sports. In football, baseball, basketball, hockey and most other sport, the referee or umpire is an integral part of the game that are put in place to make calls as they see it (subjective), right or wrong their call stands. Football needed to bring in TV to review the evidence and override poor calls in the moment. Golf doesn’t need subjective calls like other sports and nobody wants a breach of the rule to stand, which is why TV call-in work in golf.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterz-man
My view is that if you are good enough and playing well enough to have a chance to win a million dollar purse on Sunday afternoon then the extra scrutiny of being on television should be welcomed. Because if it were not for those TV cameras you would be playing for a fraction of the money. Suck it up, play by the rules, and accept responsibility if you err.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Big K
@Elf. i understand the sentiment because I share it, but....
What if an infraction means the difference between winning or losing a tournament? Something very blatant that gives the offender a definite advantage? What then?
The answer is pretty obvious, but where does one draw the line?
I don't like viewer call ins one little bit, but they are a necessary evil in a game where the rules are sacrosanct - as they should be.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
I said from day one, it wasn't Tiger's reputation that took a beating on that day at the Masters. He pretty much confessed, unwittingly, that he broke a rule because he described his intent. It was only when faced with those comments did Ridley realize his attempt to let the violation slide was going to become public. The Masters will remain tainted at long as Ridley remains in charge of the committee.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob
@Elf,
All players are subject to the same scrutiny. All players don’t get the same breaks in the game. Some get bad lies in the middle of the fairway and some players have more eyes watching them which provides the opportunity for someone to catch an inadvertent breach happens. That’s the nature of the game.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterz-man
Elf.... Using your logic, and knowing that Tiger and Phil have galleries of 5,000 + every round, you need to sell about 250,000 tickets so that every group has exactly 5,000 people walking with them! Good luck.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterperspective
I tend to think the rules mania hurts to game by making it look foolish to outsiders. They almost toss tiger out of the masters because rules purists agonize over how close the drop was to the original spot??? And some guy calls the rules committee even though there were 10,000 people on site and a million watching on TV???
Insanity. Golf never looked worse.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
I thought his comment on the Champions tour talent was inciteful. A few years back I watched the best player in my state turn 50 and try qualifying. He didn't make it. This player was an all American in college and pretty much spent all his spare time at golf. He won multiple State Ams. and is in the HOF in our state. He never tried to qualify again. The Champions tour is a very closed shop and reveals, like this interview did with the rules world, what a small and sometimes petty world pro golf is. If you are on the inside like Eger, your voice and perspective matters, you get your am. status back, you are on the Walker Cup. The Champions tour really changed for me when Allen Doyle beat Watson in Tom's home state then went to the press conference to offer advice to Tom to play more. Soon after the tour's qualifying spots were reduced to 8 or so spots per year. The reason in my view is that the older pros do not want to risk getting beat by the Allen Doyles of the world. So when I hear guys like Eger speak of protecting the field I wonder if the biggest "protection" is keeping the field to themselves.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Pasa,

Freddy "the freeloader" Ridley was also 1/2 of the duo that illegitimately blamed Shinnecock's Super (Mark Micheaux) for the 7th hole fiasco at the 2004 Open. I was there and spent a good deal of time with a number of the supporting supers and staff and it was Fred & Walt who both ordered and covered-up their incompetence. Both are real S..m of the earth IMO.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTalking Head
@Elf, Have you ever played any sort of competitive golf so that you have any idea what you are saying in regard to everyone having the same scrutiny? You make no sense at all. A rule broken in golf is a rule broken in golf. It doesn't matter how many people see it. Has nothing to do with anything.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
A few people in this discussion could really use a dictionary to look up what the word scrutiny means.

@metro18 I agree with you, it's a complicated situation, without an easy answer. The protecting the field argument is bollocks though
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
@Claude, do you think that "fair" is defined as being in sync with your view?

Eger's reinstatement was within the rules of amateur status and Stadler's breach was straight out of a published Decision.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Eger does not touch on how unhappily is stints with the USGA and PGA Tour ended
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMedia driven
Trying to understand the last part of that quote. So a guy who commits a violation (knowingly or not) that isn't caught on television gets away with it, and a guy that commits the exact same violation that is on TV gets called on it. And somehow, the playing field on those two situations is level? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
To paraphrase tour caddie 60...

Two things I learned from this article:

1. David Eger will never again set foot inside the gates of Augusta National.

2. Fred Ridley will never make another tough ruling without the player wanting (at least secretly) a second opinion.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
<< I tend to think the rules mania hurts to game by making it look foolish to outsiders. They almost toss tiger out of the masters because rules purists agonize over how close the drop was to the original spot??? >>

Yep: that's right.

How long have you been playing golf anyway? Did no-one instruct you as to the fact that this is a Gentleman's Game? You can start by looking up the definition of the word "integrity" because as of you You Just Don't Get It.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbenseattle
otey: I can't believe you asked that question. I'd give you an answer, but I don't have an hour to spare at the moment.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterrgw
Stop it, Ben. The rules are an unknowable maw of opacity and mud. The application of the rules is random and capricious. The gentlemen's game bs is....BS. we are talking about pro golf which bears no relation to the "gentlmen's game" that only snobs seem to remember.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
No, Joe, they are not unknowable. And their application shouldn't (nor needs to) be random and capricious. They are involved, yes, but not complicated. They're carefully considered and well-reasoned. Some could use simplification or revision. But if you take the time to read the rules and decisions - which requires time and study, perish the thought - they all make sense. Most folks would rather parrot the conventional "wisdom" that the rules are just too darn hard to understand and make the game look old fashioned and foolish.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
The rules are simple. It's the decisions on the rules and their application that are complicated.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
@GinGHIN,
Well said...
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterz-man
The bottom line is IMO, if I am playing by the rules then it doesn't matter if the tv camera is on me or not....if I have any doubts on how to proceed I call the referee or use Rule 3-3
10.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhh morant
What professional tour player wants to win an event by getting away with a rule infraction? None with any character. Rules are rules.

Tell me that when the crowd rolled to boulder out of TW's line of play / way that all participants were playing on a level field at that point. Tell me they were protecting the field.

How many professional sports use instant reply?
You go @pro fm dov. +1.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
@Carl Peterson: That's a fair question.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
"I tend to think the rules mania hurts to game by making it look foolish to outsiders"

I sense that @Joe himself might be one of those outsiders.

With respect to @Elf - you're just not getting it with what "protecting the field" means. I have played a lot of tournament golf in which playes with suspect reputations were playing. Anything, and I mean anything, that might keep an eye on them (caddie, observer, official, playing partner) was welcome. TV? That would be a dream. The more eyeballs, the more I felt protected.
10.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBad Brit
The look on Ridley's face after Bubba won back in 2012 pretty much reinforced my opinion of him.
10.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA

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