Tiger Woods, Tainglang Guan and the Masters

So, what do you think of the Tiger Woods ruling at the Masters? Should he have been disqualified? Should he have been penalized 2 shots? Should he not have been penalized? We all have our opinions, but this is my take.

Tiger got a horrible break on #15 Friday. Despite that bad break, he is still responsible for his score, however the new rule 33-7 which allows for committee discretion, and after they initially decided he did no wrong makes it more gray. Since Fred Ridley knows the rules better than most of us, I can see why he wasn’t disqualified. Having been in a similar situation about 5 years ago where I took a wrong drop and then signed my scorecard, only to find out later, I had to DQ myself. I think Tiger could’ve done himself a bunch of good by at the very least considering DQ’ing himself simply to avoid any question. With the hit his image took over the past 3 1/2 years, it would’ve been good for Tiger and good for golf for him to simply ensure that there would be no question and hold the game higher than his ambitions.

The Guan ruling is really pretty simple. It’s sad that a 14 year old kid gets penalized for slow play, but this is no ordinary 14 year old. Averaging 75 for 4 rounds in the Masters is not ordinary. The problem is the rule. It doesn’t stipulate WHEN the time allowed to make a stroke begins. Slow play is a real problem for golfers and golf course owners alike. The Masters often sets the tone for what many golfers do on the course. Assuming responsibility for improving the pace of play in this manner, when it was apparently obvious there was a problem should be good for the game. The rule needs to be more clear and have some teeth so that it isn’t subject to interpretation. There is little reason for a round of golf (by anyone) to take 5+ hours. The pros, the Masters and the USGA need to take the lead on this, not demonstrate how to play slowly. How many practice swings does one need? Owners can give small rebates or a free drinks to players who finish in under 4 hours. The USGA can more clearly define slow play and if one hole behind is “out of position” then simply provide for ample time to catch up. If they don’t it’s a penalty. The main reason lots of people don’t play is the time it takes. I can play 18 holes walking and carrying with my 2 sons in 3 hours without any problem if we’re not held up. We miss shots too, but we move. It’s time for golf to pick up the pace – for the good of the game.