The latest Michelle Wie DQ incident sparks a question that has been coming up regularly in the golf world over the last few years:
Should fans, press or persons other than players or officials be able to “report” possible rules infractions?
There have been a few cases on the PGA Tour where fans actually called in after seeing a rules infraction on TV, and in some of those cases the players were penalized or disqualified.
Is this right? Is this good for professional golf? Golf IS a game of honor where the players are supposed to police themselves. Honorable players like David Toms take care of themselves on the course.
Though a member of the press may be citing a possible rules violation “for the integrity of the game,” who is keeping that press member in check for “the integrity of sports reporting?”
How much bearing on professional tournaments should the spectators or press have?
What about the infamous “Tiger and the big rock” incident? The fans in the gallery helped Tiger move a giant rock that Tiger and/or his caddy clearly could not move themselves. Was this rock really loose impediment? What’s next? Bring in a tractor?
Fans in many other sports (except perhaps occasionally baseball) can’t affect the outcome of the game directly. Fans don’t call in the NFL offices and report pass interference to the officials. Reporters don’t tattle to the umpires in baseball that the last pitch was a strike and not a ball.
In golf spectators or press can help out a player by finding his ball. They can conversely damn the player by busting him for an illegal drop.
I’m not saying I have the answer to this issue. I can’t think how anything might be changed, except for only allowing tournament players and officials participate in rules questions. But surely some infractions would slip through the cracks and someone would likely benefit from a mistake.