Finchem On Furrowed Bunkers

I'm fascinated by the part about the it not being interesting for spectators if the guys are getting up and down a lot...

Q. We haven't had a chance to talk to you since what happened with the Memorial with the bunkers. What were your feelings? How do you think the test case worked out? Is there anything that you regret in regards to most specifically maybe not notifying the players beforehand?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think if you just stand back and look it from a strictly competitive standpoint, it's hard to argue with our team, our officials, who feel strongly on this point, Nicklaus and his people, who feel strongly on this point, which is that bunkers are hazards, and you play the ball as it lies. (Indiscernible) competitively play the hazard. There was a growing sentiment, I guess, that this may be fueled by (indiscernible) over the last 12 years, but there's a growing sentiment that bunker play has become too routine.

I hear it on two levels: one is that it's not competitively challenging enough, and number two, it's not interesting enough to the spectator if guys are getting up and down a lot. The problem with that thinking a little bit is, however, that they'll always get up and down.

If you stand back and look at Memorial, 2005, players got up and down I think 47% of the time on greenside bunkers. This year they got up and down 42% of the time. It's not a huge falloff.

It seems to me it's a different issue in the fairway bunkers. How you want the fairway bunkers to play in my mind is a different issue than the greenside bunkers.

This is all I think healthy, positive for the game, to have this discussion, to have this focus on variety in setting up a golf course, including raking of the bunkers. I think it's fair game. I think a lot of players feel that way.

Now, having said that, I was not comfortable in hindsight about the way we went about it. I think if we're going along with a certain philosophy for a certain number of years, it's only reasonable to inform the players in advance if you're going to make some major shift in that philosophy, allow them to take the steps, whether mentally or physically, in terms of practice or getting their heads together in terms of how to play.

Now, if there was one isolated thing, it might be one thing. But we have a pattern of setups. I think you need to tell the players. If we were coming to Avenel this week and we put every tee back 50 yards, I think we should tell the players that was happening. I think that's not unreasonable. I don't think there's anything unhealthy about having our players involved in discussions to that point. Not that they make the call, our rules team makes the call in most instances.
I don't have any problem with the application, the process. I think we should be a little bit more careful. Bottom line is, I think it was a reasonable, healthy exercise that stimulates discussion and focus on different parts of setup philosophy that can contribute to challenges that are good for the competition and also interesting to the spectators.