Friday, January 7, 2011

You're On Candid Camera

Camilo Villegas is a guy who lives for the spotlight. With his festive outerwear and flashy on-course demeanor, you can definitely tell he relishes the opportunity (and the journey) to be in front of the cameras. Well, one moment he wishes that he was not in front of the camera was on Thursday afternoon in Hawaii. Villegas flubbed an uphill chip on the 15th hole of the Kapalua Plantation course in Maui and had the ball roll all the way back down the hill to his feet. However, as the ball was rolling back to him, he flicked away a loose divot with his club. According to the rules of golf this should have been a two-stroke penalty, but it went unnoticed by virtually everyone. However, because the shot was televised it was soon noticed and Villegas was disqualified on Friday morning for signing an incorrect scorecard because he did not assess himself the proper penalty for that shot. I ask you, readers of TPLIYP, is that fair? Golf has now entered what I will call the "replay age," and will have to come up with a way to deal with these problems as they arise.

The problem with the replay age in golf is that not every golfer is on camera at all times. Unlike football or baseball where replay issues are fairly simple, without putting cameras on every single player it is impossible to see everything that goes on during a golf tournament. Over a hundred players spread out over 18 holes make golf very hard to police with video replays. Because of this, the popular players are held to different standards than the less talented players. If some straggler on his way to an 85 had done the same thing as Camilo yesterday, it probably would have gone unnoticed. But because it was Camilo, he gets a disqualification. The same thing could be said of Dustin Johnson's gaffe at the PGA Championship last year. Had Sonny Skinner done the same thing, probably only Trey and I would have noticed and the penalty would not have been enforced. I suppose ignorance of the rules should be no excuse for Camilo, but it doesn't seem fair that he might get caught for an honest mistake like that but another player might not.

Television has presented a pretty serious problem on the PGA Tour. It has created an inconsistency in rules enforcement between the more popular players and those who don't get much camera time. The PGA must make sure that everyone is abiding by the rules, whether it be through promoting greater knowledge of the rule book or somehow getting cameras on every player. Camilo Villegas' disqualification is yet another example of how more popular players are getting screwed over by increased television coverage of professional golf.

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