Author Archives: Head Fanatic

R.I.P Armchair Rules Officials

erhaps Lexi Thompson can take some solace from the announcement made on Monday by the USGA and R&A, in conjunction with the major men’s and women’s professional tours around the world and the PGA of America. Starting Jan. 1, these associations collectively will no longer field rules inquires from viewers watching golf-tournament broadcasts on TV or streaming online as part of a new set of video review protocols.

The decision doesn’t turn back time or alter the outcome of Thompson’s disappointing playoff loss at the ANA Inspiration in April, but her harrowing experience served as a tipping point to change what many believe had become a blight on the game.

Had the new policy been in place earlier this year, chances are Thompson would not have received the four-stroke penalty for incorrectly marking her ball on the putting green and instead would have likely cruised to victory over So Yeon Ryu at Mission Hills. LPGA officials would not have accepted the email that came to them during Sunday’s final round asking about Thompson’s mark on the 17th green the previous day.

In the aftermath of the ANA ruling, the USGA and R&A formed a working group made up of representatives from the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America to develop guidelines for video review. The foundation of the working group’s new protocol is that each of these entities has committed to assigning one or more rules officials to monitor video broadcasts of their events to help identify and review potential rules issues as they arise. In turn, the tours will discontinue consideration of call-ins as part of the rules review process.

“The committee [at each tournament] will take on the responsibility of monitoring in real time,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA senior director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. “Essentially everything you’re seeing at home we’ve already seen it. We’re going to apply the rules accordingly.”

Should players, caddies, officials or spectators at tournaments raise questions about potential rules issues, the video review staff at each tournament can return to the broadcast footage to help with rulings.

In addition, the USGA and R&A have approved the creation of a Local Rule that will eliminate the additional two-stroke penalty players can receive for failing to include a penalty on the scorecard when a player is unaware of the penalty. This Local Rule will be available starting Jan. 1, and all associations that are part of the video working group will implement it. Meanwhile, the scorecard penalty will be removed entirely in 2019 when the modernized Rules of Golf go into effect.

Pagel said that the working group’s first point of conversation upon gathering in April was whether to allow video reviews of any kind. Their conclusion was that obvious benefit of seeing footage to determine facts and help apply the Rules—as well as exonerate players—was too big to do away with video review altogether.

However, there was agreement that the type of video that would be reviewed needed to be limited to broadcast footage. Videos taken onsite by phones or other digital technology will not be used as part of the review process.

“We see this today in social media and otherwise, and not just limited to golf, you see video that’s clipped and manipulated,” Pagel said. “And rather that put yourself in a position of having to trust that, we’re just saying we’re going to rely on those credible sources.”

No other major sport allows spectators to potentially change the outcome of a competition based on what they saw, viewers getting to act as de facto arm-chair officials. Beside the Thompson affair, the 2013 Masters was memorably impacted when a viewer called to say that Tiger Woods had taken an improper drop on the 15th hole during the second round after hitting a shot off the flag stick and into the water. (That viewer happened to be a former PGA Tour and USGA rules official, David Eger.)

More often than not, however, when call-ins occur they don’t amount to actual Rules infractions and become distractions to tournament officials, according to Pagel.

“When a call or email would come over to our desk where we were reviewing video, 90 percent of them, maybe 95 percent, we had already seen and determined there were no issues,” Pagel said. “And maybe somebody calls about something and it was from four hours ago, and all of a sudden you go to the source video and realize there’s nothing there. So it’s a labor-intensive process, and really it’s taking us away from focusing on conducting the event.”

That said, Pagel acknowledges that under the new video protocol there is potential for rules issues to be overlooked. Take Thompson at the ANA. If not for the email from the viewer, it would have been incumbent upon LPGA video rules officials to have caught Thompson’s improper mark in real time.

“There may be things that the committee after the scorecard is returned, will come back and say, ‘You know what? We missed that. We didn’t catch that as it happened. We’re human.’ The committee will accept that responsibility.”

Pagel characterizes these changes as the next step in golf’s ongoing conversation regarding video review. Shortly after the ANA incident, the USGA and R&A announced a new decision (34-3/10) to the Rules of Golf that allowed for a “player’s reasonable judgment” to be acceptable in cases where they video evidence later shows they might not have taken precisely the nearest point of relief.

The governing bodies also put in that Decision a “naked eye” standard so that if a player’s action could not reasonable have been seen as it happened—think Anna Nordqvist at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open—and the player was not otherwise aware of a potential breach, he or she would not be considered to have broken the Rules if video technology shows otherwise.

Everyone realizes that video can play a helpful role for players and officials. This latest announcement is in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t play a hurtful role, too.

It’s about freaking time. – The Liberator

Paige Spiranec Opens Up About Sexual Harassment

“Spiranac, a former golfer at San Diego State who has put her playing career on hold, has leveraged her online persona into an impressive portfolio that includes an endorsement deal with PXG and the 18 Birdies app. But she’s also become vocal in decrying the mistreatment of women online, serving as a spokeswoman for the anti-cyber bullying foundation, Cybersmile. As someone who has been criticized by men and women for using her looks to advance her career, Spiranac says women can be just as complicit in “victim shaming.”

Click HERE for the whole story…

Here’s my two cents…Paige Spiranec does not have thousands of followers because of her golf swing. If she wants to sell her sexuality for fame she should accept the reality that she is pushing men’s testosterone buttons. If you want the so-called sexual harassment to stop, Paige, stop selling your sexuality. The world of decent people cannot be your police force. YOU control the reaction to (mostly) young, over-sexed males who ogle the very pics you post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and your image in the commercials for which you are paid thousands of dollars. You can’t have it both ways, girl. Stop posting your half-naked pics or stop whining. – The Head Fanatic

Grayson Murray apologizes for taking shot at PGA Tour Champions

Golf Digest

Grayson Murray enjoyed a successful rookie campaign in 2017, winning the Barbasol Championship and reaching the third stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Despite this performance, the 24-year-old’s name was frequently mentioned for reasons other than his play. He called out Bryson DeChambeau for an injury WD, chided his fellow pros for their boring social-media accounts and beefed with players on the European Tour regarding world ranking points. Clearly Murray does not adhere to the “Rookies should be seen, not heard” adage.

Murray again made waves over the weekend via Twitter, this time for comments aimed at the PGA Tour Champions. In response to the Golf Channel’s Will Gray, who pointed out the shortcomings of the Charles Schwab Cup point system, Murray said in a now-deleted tweet, “Does anyone really care is the real question…those guys were relevant 10 plus years ago.” Murray further stated that, while he agreed the senior players laid a foundation for the tour of today, the circuit loses a lot of money, forcing the PGA to subsidize it.

After several outlets took Murray to task for his opinions, he issued an apology on Tuesday, specifically for any disrespect mined from his remarks.

Murray only recently reactivated his Twitter account, taking a break following past controversies. Following a decent fall showing, highlighted by a T-9 at the Safeway Open, Murray is sitting out this week’s RSM Classic.

Hey Grayson, spare me. You meant what you said earlier. The apology was written by your agent…or maybe your mother.  Go crawl back in the hole you crawled out of and don’t come out.

– The Head Fanatic

Think you’re good enough for Q-school? Read this before you answer.

A great piece from Golf Digest…

You probably haven’t heard of Jeff Kellen. And if you have, it was probably for what he did at a mini-tour event in 2014, when he made nine birdies in a row to shoot a back-nine 27. Or maybe you saw him (without knowing who he was) when he served as a swing model in a series of Golf Digest instruction stories.

Kellen was a top player at Illinois State, and turned pro in 2011. Since then, he’s dedicated virtually every waking moment to trying to make it to the PGA Tour. He pounds the ball, hitting 185-yard 8-irons and long, straight drives. He’s a terrific putter, and isn’t afraid to go low. He’s shot 62 a dozen times, and if he came to your average American private club, he’d probably make 10 or 12 birdies on his first trip around.

But for the group of players trying to make it through the three stages of Q-school required to get onto the tour, Kellen doesn’t stand out. Everybody in the field is a terrific player. Kellen has tried to qualify three times and has made it to the second stage once, last year. He’s putting up the $5,000 entry fee and going for it again this year, starting in Nebraska City, Neb., in two weeks.

About 950 players will compete at 12 locations starting Sept. 27 for about 400 spots in five second stage venues a month later. The best 156 from there will make it to the finals a month after that, and where they finish in that tournament will determine how many events they can enter in 2017.

You have to play a lot of good golf on three separate weeks, against a lot of good players, just to get even conditional status on the tour–from where it’s another giant leap to get to the PGA Tour. It’s one of the hardest challenges in sports.

But say you’re a good stick at your home club. Maybe you’ve won a club championship or two. You might be wondering how your game stacks up against somebody like Kellen.

Unless you’re shooting 65s and your game can travel, it doesn’t.

Even if you hit a lot of balls, you probably have a day job. For five years, Kellen has been doing nothing but practice and play golf. Last year, he moved to Long Island to train with instructor Mike Jacobs at Jacobs’ high-tech studio in Manorville. Kellen has broken down every aspect of his swing and optimized it for maximum efficiency. He’s hit thousands of balls and rolled thousands of putts, and that’s just this summer.

Eavesdropping on one of their work sessions in this final lead-up to Q-school is much different than watching a run-of-the-mill fix-my-slice lesson at the range down the street. Jacobs and Kellen are concerned with very small differences in the movement of Kellen’s hips in the downswing–the difference between perfectly puring shots and hitting them slightly off the toe in a way that is almost invisible to the casual watcher. Jacobs doesn’t say much at this point. He’s there to help Kellen connect accurate feedback to the shots he’s hitting, so that Kellen can essentially coach himself during a tournament by recognizing negative swing patterns very quickly. That’s an important skill when you’re on your own at a tournament and a run of three or four bad holes can mean you’re going home and trying again next year.

The work is part of a comprehensive plan for Kellen’s season that centered more on practicing and improving his skills than competing in mini-tour events. “I tried it the other way for a few years, playing a lot of tournaments and even changing my swing,” says Kellen. “All it did was substitute different inconsistencies for the ones I had. I came to Mike so I could learn what was really happening with my swing, and to own it.”

As Q-school approaches, Kellen has switched from hard-core swing instruction to working on shaping different full and short game shots, and sharpening his competitive instincts. “Playing hard golf courses helps,” says Kellen. “Money games, tournaments–competition takes many forms. It could be for $1, or for a beer. But it has to be something. There’s nothing worse than handing something over.”

He doesn’t go into his pocket very often.

You better go hit some balls. A lot of them.

Which begs the question, “What IS the difference?” Why does a guy with Kellen’s talent not make it on tour but someone with far less talent makes it? What say you? I look forward to your comment.

— The Head Fanatic