written by P.R. for DumDittyDo.com All World Wide Rights Reserved
Like many folks, I was watching the US Golf Open, held in Oakmont, Pa. My Homestate. I am part of Arnie’s Army! OOH Rah.
No Tiger this year, no rock to move. No Grand Slam in the making. Not even Spieth V Day, which I was kinda hoping for … and still am. No, none of that, but still something to talk about, and this year it is controversial as ever. It’s about ball movement on the green. You see, DJ and his playing partner hit their balls to the green, marked their respective balls, walked all over the green to get a read on their putts from numerous angles. Normal stuff.
DJ then went up and removed his marker, placed his ball, took his stance, (not yet addressing the ball), grounded his club, even took a few ‘air’ strokes for practice, (again, normal stuff, what all golfers do), grounded his club again, ‘prepared’ to address the ball, and in the act of his club being in the air, the ball moved backwards a 1/4″ or so.
Yup. That’s what all the fuss is about. A whole 1/4″ Well, ok. There’s more. Like Money. A lot of it.
Well, there was a big stink and video had to be reviewed, another head honcho had to be called in, and it took them SEVEN HOLES to make a determination. SEVEN HOLES!! (that would be the equivalent to almost 1/2 a football game, or maybe 200 laps at Indy). Well, they decided (The USGA, that is), with all the extenuating circumstances, that DJ’s ‘presence’ (in essence) caused the ball to move, and was hence charged a 1 stoke penalty. I understand their stance. I understand their argument. I even agree with their argument. But here’s the thing. I think they got wrong. Here’s why.
My question is this: If I place my ball on the green, and remove my ball marker, walk away from my ball, and THEN it moves, is that a penalty? I think that is the real question here. What the USGA is saying, is that if the ball was there, and nobody else was, that the ball would NOT have moved. Well, by very fact that there is a golf tourney, the best we can say is, if the ball was placed there, AT THAT TIME, after DJ and company had walked all over the green, if he then replaced the ball, and then DJ and everybody else left the green, walked away, would the ball have moved ANYWAY?
According to the USGA, no. I understand what they are saying, and ruling. That by the very fact that somebody was in the vicinity, (aka DJ) it was THAT which caused the ball to move. His Presence. I understand that. It makes sense. I even think they are half correct. I certainly believe it was DJ’s presence (or that of his playing companion) on that hole and at that time which then, caused by a re-inflating shoe impression, or indentation or cleat mark or whatever, and it was actually THAT in conjunction with the conditions of the weather and the slopes of the greens, the softness of the greens (and I suspect a whisper of wind) which caused the movement of the ball. I’ve seen it happen before. But neither me or my buddies call a penalty on ourselves for it. WE didn’t make it move. It just sort of did all on its own. Without provocation. Of course, we’re playing for a beer or 2. Not Millions of Dollars. Or a trophy.
But heres the thing.
The USGA keeps leaning on the crutch and repeating the phrase ‘instantaneous movement’ in reference to the putter grounding the 2nd time and the movement of the ball. Apparently the time it takes for me to lift my putter (from between my feet and my ball), move my putter (in the air) to behind my ball is instantaneous. Say what? Instantaneous is the hit Troy Palamaleau (sp?) put on you RIGHT AFTER you caught the ball. Instantaneous is the sound of the ball hitting the glove the same time the foot strikes the bag. THOSE are instantaneous.
But what I see in the video, was NOT instantaneous, but rather a slight delay. Maybe a whole second. Certainly not instantaneous.
Simply put, I think they got it wrong… Furthermore, and 2ndly, as to the point of what to do in the future:
I say THAT is what the USGA officials are there for. Like a Ref in football or Ump in Baseball. Make a decision THEN AND THERE. Right or Wrong. You can’t put the whole field in pause while reviewing a tape, somewhere forever away. And if you do implement a review system (seriously? In Golf?) then do it Only if a rules official is in the booth or truck and can make an:
‘immediate decision’, within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. Not to exceed the length of 1 hole. (My definition of a rules amendment)
Simply put, I think the USGA should have made an ‘INSTANTANEOUS DECISION’.
After the commercial (Sowwy, not mine) (:-( they begin explaining the issue. At the 1 min mark is the putt in question, and a close up view is better at the 5 min mark. See for yourself. This is the video I am referring to, courtesy (?) of The Golf Channel: