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Lexi Fallout: Golf's Five Families Convene At Augusta...

"How did things ever get so far?"

"This Lexi business is going to destroy us for years go come."

I'm paraphrasing of course, but it's fun to imagine the professional tours--which let their players play slow, mark their golf balls constantly (unless it's a backboard for a playing partners)--whining about the Rules of Golf not having addressed issues related to HD and DVR's.

But as Jaime Diaz reported in Golf World, the Corleonie's, Barzini's and Tattaglia's of golf got together to bark at each other about Lexi Thompson's penalty at the ANA Inspiration.

There were intense exchanges in which tour leaders, worried about the perception of their products, argued that rules changes were needed posthaste to stop situations that fans and even players found unfair and nonsensical. The most aggrieved party was the LPGA, and its commissioner Mike Whan, who had publicly called the Thompson ruling “embarrassing.”

“I understand Mike’s perspective,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “This was hard on Lexi Thompson, and hard on Mike Whan. But it was not bad for the game, because this is exactly the kind of dialogue that good change comes out of.”

Something tells me that did not give Commissioner Whan a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And this is why we still have cause for concern, just as we did in the days after the Lexi situation.

Golf’s leaders hope that the public will come to regard the rules as better reflections of common sense and fairness. But ultimately, it’s unavoidable that they will be applied on a case-by-case basis.

In Thompson’s case, even under a new standard of intent and reasonable judgment, it’s not clear that she would have not been penalized. As the video shows, Thompson missed replacing on the correct spot by about half a ball. Half a ball doesn’t seem like a lot, but especially on a short putt, it constitutes a pretty bad mark.

Closed circuit cameras caught the meeting:



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Reader Comments (39)

Yes, half ball is a lot.....when you have a spike mark in front of it. She cheated, and that's all we need to know. Anyway, in 2019 you'll be able to repair any damage in the green, so problem solved.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJack
If they come up with a rule change to excuse such an egregious error, or to excuse a player who commits such an error mid competition they will be dealing with the law of unintended consequences x10. I suggest the likes of Lexi learn how to replace their balls correctly, assuming of course that was her intention. I am with Davis on this one.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterbs
Why not let the players repair damaged greens right now, why wait 2 years?
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark
The only thing that has changed in golf over the years are the players. The rules have remained pretty consistent. This is all a by-product of the way kids are raised and how when things do not go their way it is simply chalked up to "this isn't fair". There have definitely been some situations that have been handled incorrectly, such as the DJ situation last year, but for the most part a player either commits a rules infraction or they don't. Feelings are going to be hurt and embarrassment will have to be dealt with. Sorry, this is the real world. As a former Nike Tour player, who is no longer with us, once elegantly told a local rules official who was helping the Tour rules staff: "This ain't the member-guest pops."
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Good analogy, Geoff. Nothing personal, just business. But I liken it more to what goes on in Washington and can hear most of our elected representatives cheering. Never address a player problem when the rules can be changed to protect image. Wake me up when the DC swamp changes the rules to prevent them from voting on their own pay raise.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
The first rule of avoiding embarrassment is not actively participating in the embarrassment.

Send calls and emails from rules bores to the Memory Hole.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatchy
Is there evidence in the video of the Lexi situation that shows anything but smooth green between her ball and the cup? I certainly didn't see any in extreme close-up. I see stuff to the right of the line of the putt, but no reason for even the most sociopathic cheater to want to move the ball.

I understand what you are saying, but regardless, marking the ball correctly is an inherent part of being a professional. Regardless of intent, what Lexi did was similar to an attorney showing up to the Supreme Court dressed like My Cousin Vinny. There are consequences for that.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTremendous Slouch
Under no circumstances can players be allowed to mark their ball like that, when leading a major no-less, unless they are popular enough w/ the crabby old guys on social media who will fake boycott.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon
@Tremendous Slouch. Vinny did win that case, did he not?
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterthebigdad
Hold on a second. I'm not saying she should be allowed to mark her ball like that without consequences. It's a penalty, no question, and very sloppy at best. But I don't know what was going through her mind and neither does anyone else.

But the main question here is the timing of a call-in situation. If there is clear video evidence to be had, is it too hard/expensive for it to be had by the people who can act on it in a more timely manner? If someone at home can see something, can't somebody at the tournament see it as well?
When the F*#$ are the Tour leaders going to wake up and have Mike Davis fired or implement their own rules?
The guy and the whole USGA organization area bunch of bufoons!!!!!!!!
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrBeeper
When Lexi's mis-mark was seen in slow motion -- the way most of us viewed it -- it looked like a crafty move, perhaps even naughty. But when seen at regular speed, it just looked like a player moving with dispatch, taking a hasty, habitual glance at the ball before rapidly replacing it. You know, moving the way we'd like to see players move. Only the slo-mo made it look like a transgression. And therein lies the problem.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaude
Even the "mob" had rules. Break the rules and get whacked. Simple isn't it!
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterVagabond
To avoid these "embarrassing" situations is to have the TV producers (or whatever) agree not show players around the ball in a zoom-in, close-up, or slo-mo fashion unless the player, rules official, or another player has an issue. The rule has worked fine for decades, the change is the video technology.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
@ Ol Harv + a lot! Great post. @ Claude. I didnt see the incident live but at any speed it looks wrong to me. She never let go of the ball and put it in a different place. If she had picked it up, walked away and then come back and put it in the wrong place I might accept it was an error but what she did was wrong and should never be allowed under the rules.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Remember 1) without the penalty she would have been 18 under par and 2) some players and analysts suggested a 2-storke penalty. and 3) some felt that a 1-hole playoff is too short.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBart

I believe it was Jerry Callo (with a C) who won the case, and while wearing a suit.


I was simply saying that her lack of professionalism was bad enough that her intent doesn't even really matter. I agree that there needs to be a solution about the phone calls. I just don't know what it should be, and whatever it is, somebody will still complain about it.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTremendous Slouch
All the great "rules are rules" folks here never mention pace of play enforcement. I think it is a Tour rule as in a c of c regulation like grooves. And magically no one has ever been penalized in a major. The Tours could address this now with their own c of c for tapping down marks, having a required marking device that is more "cheat proof" but they all point the fingers somewhere else. In the Godfather vernacular why don't they "be a man!" and fix it. Hypocrites all.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
The slow play rule is the only one that payers will not call on them self or be allowed to call on others. I the slow play really bothers some of the players, they would play slow on pourpus to get the group on the clock and than play Normal or they would complain about it more to the media. I wonder if the tour has told them to not talk about slow play or playing loose with the rules to the media
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark
The game may be heading down a path of eroding principles because of public fallout. The tail is starting to wag the dog. If Mike Whan allows his players to play fast & lose with the rules, they are not only a cause of the problem but they are doing the game an unbearable disservice. Mike Whan needs to tell his membership they must be responsible and be held accountable to the Rules of Golf rather than enabling the problem by pointing blame to outside agencies.

Replacing the ball to the same place is fundamental to the game. If the rules provide for players to claim “intention” to factor into the decision for possible breaches, golfers will take advantage of these situations all day lone. Golf will find itself with other sports where the old say is, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGolferfromUtah
All the great "rules are rules" folks here never mention pace of play enforcement. I think it is a Tour rule as in a c of c regulation like grooves. And magically no one has ever been penalized in a major.

No one?

The Tours could address this now with their own c of c for tapping down marks, having a required marking device that is more "cheat proof" but they all point the fingers somewhere else.

Your proposed conditions would not be in accordance with the rules. The rules used to allow such a condition regarding the object used to mark the position of the ball (circa early 1990s). That condition was rescinded (IIRC in 1996) after David Feherty was penalized under it for using his hotel key as a marker.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Disagree....yes, "even under a new standard of intent and reasonable judgment, it’s not clear that she would have not been penalized" The huge difference would be that a viewer would not have called in the penalty.

Should the tours want to place an official in the TV trailer to monitor the players during the broadcast, that could be fine (although still not fair to the entire field as not all players have a TV focused on their every move). By that single change, you also eliminate the possibility of a late, second day call. This whole issue can be so easily fixed without any damage to the integrity of the game.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon Doyle
I would propose ALL the players must use the same widget to mark the ball. A sleeve that you must slip over the ball (think napkin ring) or a triangle (think pool call rack) that has a specified opening that the player places over the ball, then lift the ball,clean it, replacing it within the device, align it, then pick the device up and putt. The tour decides how much extra room is allowed between the device edge and the ball. This would be a basic fix.
The tours need to adopt an "end of hole" period - similar to match play, when infractions can be penalized. The call-in delayed penalty is not an equitable application since in the ANA case the players completed so much of their round with a "false" leaderboard.
GC interviewed Ryu about the ruling and she didn't know where she stood until 18. So she only had one hole where the notion of winning the tourney was a factor in her play. That is a lot different than just playing for a high finish.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Obviously, Whan is NOT a golfer.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZimmer Man
It took them, what, 3 or 4 years to ban the "anchored putter"??? The controlling authorities in golf have one speed, it seems, slow!!!
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave Andrews
When, who has done a very good job, called the ruling embarrassing.

What is truly embarrassing is tour player not know how to mark and replace a ball properly,
And playing partners either not seeing it, or deciding not to call it (as per Michelson comments).

Much like the world at large, the rules aren't fair, so we do t have to play by them.
The details on the '15 Presidents Cup in the Diaz - Golf World piece make it pretty easy to narrow down the identity of the "young man" who was ushered into one of those all white backrooms with a drain in the middle of the floor. Smart money is on Danny Lee being the serial ball mark/replace violator. J. Nicklaus "They just got the captains together and had a little conversation with the young man, and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to him"...very interesting stuff.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdownlowkey
Cheating can become an addiction.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZimmer Man
Munihack, Cmon, you're reaching for a fix and there really isn't a problem. The ball got "replaced" incorrectly. Think about the amount of times through the course of a year a ball gets marked and replaced on any professional tour. And yet we hardly ever have this come up. I can think of maybe 5 in modern times?

I will say I think this whole matter would have been handled differently in the past, similar to what Nicklaus was trying to indicate at The Masters presser. Players in the past policed the field without this attitude now of not wanting to be the bad guy. I think back in the 60's and 70's if word got out that someone was a little loose with the rules such as moving their mark or tamping down spikemarks then the other players watched for it and then finally the field staff would confront the guy after enough complaints.(Bob Toski, Jane Blalock) The "cheaters" didn't last long. There was a guy who had one of the best club pro jobs in the country who cheated in a section event and he was let go shortly thereafter. I'm not claiming that Lexi has ever done this in the past, only she and her past playing competitors would really know, but as stated in other threads, it sure seems like someone was looking for this improper re-mark which would indicate it maybe had happened before.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Ol Harv, I agree the ball marking should be policed by the players either openly or by discussion with officials. The timing of the ruling was BAD.

The ruling should have been made Saturday or not at all.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H.
" I kep feeling like it was a family member or friend of one of her cometitors who was in contention. There's your cheater." does turning someone in for a rules infraction make them a cheater? Oh yeah, that's right, if you call a penalty on someone then in your world it means you've cheated yourself. I forgot about that previous statement you've made before.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
@ol Harv
My solution removes ambiguity for the tours. In years past no one had hdtv and zoom lenses either. Like I said before the HOF is full of folks who were accused of playing loose with the rules. To say marking a ball isn't an issue when we are all still talking about it makes me think otherwise.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMunihack
04.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMr Green Jeans
munihack, it's an issue with one player. The one player who we've all been talking about since it happened.
04.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Solution to cheating - don't look.

Let golfers fix their putting path on the green - that should speed up play...
04.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBud
@ol Harv
Not according to Phil.
04.18.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihaxk
Dont let this thread die!
I remember a PGA tour player saying they just mark the ball really fast so no one can call them on an accidental replacement not exactly on spot. Maybe players should drop? Or get rid of marking and cleaning entirely. Bring back the stymie!
04.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H.
Ole Harv. I disagree, the problem with marking is that you can't mark in the same location. So intent matters. Phil and others have noted it happens. Is there a coincidence that the most highly televised events are having too many rules controversies based on video evidence? Lexi crossed a line of placing the ball in the wrong position that the majority agree was intentional. And she thought it wasn't in violation.

Every time I see a player re-mark to line up there ball I could call it cheating. And a heck of a lot of players do it. It isn't a Rule intent it is an implementation problem.
04.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H.

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