The Round Table weighs in on Mackenzie Hughes, Tiger and bad bookkeeping

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

Last week at the Genesis Invitational, Jordan Spieth was disqualified following the second round for signing an incorrect scorecard. He signed for a 3 on the 4th hole when he actually made a 4. In this day and age, when modern technology can accurately record and report on just about anything, is it still appropriate to expect the player to keep his scorecard and face disqualification if he messes up? Or should a different penalty be imposed?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I think it’s a crazy, arcane rule. Yes, it may be “traditional,” but golf has evolved in many ways from the old days and this rule should evolve too. It seems to me that once the error was detected, Spieth could have been notified of his mistake, the score corrected with his approval, and no harm done. The rule is pretty stupid in this day and age, and the penalty is WAY too severe. I know, I know, stupid or not, dem’s de rules and Roberto De Vicenzo and all that, but really, was it a necessary outcome? Was professional golf properly served?

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Yes, players should still be expected to keep track of their score and sign it properly. This isn’t much to ask. Every single other player in the tournament did it right. And there are many people the player can rely on for that help, it’s not hard. The hard penalty of DQ is because signing for a lower score is a serious occurrence. Conversely, if you sign for a higher hole score, its OK, it counts. As a player, just take your time and double-check the scorecard with your caddie or someone else you trust before signing. Full stop.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Golf is full of traditions. Some make sense others don’t. A player being responsible for reporting his/her score accurately has always been one. Players have called penalties on themselves and occasionally it has cost them a championship. Golf is known for its integrity and honour. On the PGA TOUR, a player has a caddy, a scorer, electronic scoreboards, a playing partner and even the playing partner’s caddy. If a player can’t get his/her score correct with all of that support, too bad. They don’t even have to add it correctly.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It’s a bit ridiculous in this day and age of information at our fingertips.  Although players should be responsible for their score, it’s a bit insane that they could be DQ’d and give up a huge paycheque just for signing for a wrong number when everyone knows they didn’t do it on purpose.  They need to change this rule asap, in what other sport is the player responsible for keeping their own score at the top level?

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: There are precious few traditions remaining unscathed in a game tenuously bound and defined by its history and traditions. Still, when anyone on the internet half a world away knew that Spieth made bogey not par, Spieth too should have recalled it. But, hmm, like everyone else vaguely interested in this event in the media-sphere, the folks in the scoring tent/booth/room knew it too. Absurd. How about before signing, memory-challenged players ( “I am such a stupid,” brings one famously to mind) submit their cards to a scanner. Goof revealed, corrected, signed. For non-televized events — such as 99.9 per cent of rounds — the olde rules apply.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I don’t have a problem with the Rule or the penalty. However, in professional golf, there’s too much riding on the outcome to have it messed up by bad bookkeeping. The objective should be 100% accuracy and the technology exists to make that happen. The PGA Tour has all the scores sent in by walking scorekeepers and these should be available to players for further verification. If a player turned in a card that differed from the Tour version, they could discuss any discrepancies before the score is made official. It’s not rocket science.

Last week, Tiger Woods hosted the Genesis Invitational, teed it up for the first time in a regular PGA Tour event since last year at the Masters, hit a shank on the 18th hole in his first round, then withdrew during the second round with flu-like symptoms. He also launched his new line of clothing called Sun Day Red and commented during a press conference that the PGA Tour didn’t really need the Saudi PIF money but maybe something could be worked out. There was a lot happening for the 15-time major champion but little of it was golf. What’s your take on Tiger these days?

Deeks: Gosh, I dunno. I give him credit for still being a main focus in the world of golf, but I wonder if it’s entirely justified. I also give him and Rory credit for being the two guys who (morally or even literally) held back so many prominent PGA Tour players from bolting for the big PIF money. But he’s 48 and surely past his best years. IT was somewhat the same with Arnold Palmer 50 years ago… after 1967 we kept waiting and hoping for Arnie to make a comeback to his glory days and win another major and go head-to-head with Jack.  But it never happened, and Arnie slid gracefully into Elder Statesman. I kinda wish Tiger would do that.

Loughry: Sad to see Tiger WD this week. His first round was decent score-wise, even including a shank. As for everything else, meh, I sort of tuned out. The clothing line I won’t be running out to buy. And his comments regarding PIF are interesting, but I don’t put any stock in his comments. If LIV poaches more top-talent PGA Tour players, and/or young up-and-comers, you can bet that will get the attention of Tiger and the PGA Tour all right. Nobody wants to watch a mediocre, dwindling product, and fans won’t. And you can bet those investors will care too. You lose eyeballs and the product loses its allure/value, and those investors don’t see a return on investment – well what do you think that means for the PGA Tour?

Schurman: Anyone can get the flu but his other w/ds for back, knees, ankle etc. should have been detectable before he played. A commentator on Sunday remarked that most tour players ride carts when they play at home which is a missed opportunity to prepare. Moe used to carry 150 balls in his bag and walk every day to build his legs and endurance. Tiger must have had a lengthy contract with Nike that kept him from doing a shirt-line long ago. Strange how the blood is drying off the Saudi money as time goes on. My take on Tiger is he should retire to the TV tower.

Rule: It’s good to see him competing again, even though he isn’t in great form.  You just never know when he might find his game and compete in an event, it’ll happen again, I’m convinced.  He’s always going to be a big part of the game of golf, and his clothing line is just another way for him to keep connected.  I’m sure he’ll have some part in the final negotiations with PIF and lead the PGA Tour into their new reality, whenever that finally happens.  But I only really care about Tiger when he’s playing an event, so I’ll look forward to his next start, hopefully before Augusta!

Quinn: How many bad looks do we need before we all just look away? Pimping a new ‘red’ brand  when supposedly focussed on hosting a “pimped” escalated event, or whatever they’re calling them, with memories of his crashing a sponsor’s car still fresh; then WD’ing after weeks of media hype about his ‘actually playing;’ and then not showing up for the trophy presentation? That’s enough, more than enough.

Mumford: The PGA Tour needs a new hero. Unfortunately, the celebrity obsessed American TV networks will hang on to Tiger like they did with Arnie and Jack until long after they’re relevant as competitive players. Tiger’s time as a player is over but the other players still respect and trust him, so an active role resolving the Tour’s many issues could be appropriate. Look out Jay Monahan.

On Saturday at the Genesis, CBS did one of their ‘walk-and-talk’ interviews with Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes as he was playing the 15th hole. Jim Nantz asked Hughes about comments he originally made in Hawaii and reiterated at the Pebble Beach Pro Am, where he talked about the state of professional golf and how it now seemed to be all about money. Hughes pointed out that money wasn’t his motivation for competing and it seemed like pro golf had lost sight of what’s important in the game. What are your thoughts on Hughes comments?

Deeks: I agree with Mackenzie completely. What was once a gentleman’s game, played with honour and integrity, and for the love of competition, has evolved into a money fest. Obscene amounts thrown at players just for showing up (or joining up, at LIV), and being walking billboards for sponsors, with legal gambling on the horizon and who knows what implications that entails. I have no problem with players earning a good living for all their talent and hard work, but it seems like the game has fallen off the rails since the arrival of LIV.

Loughry: For the most part Mac is right. Arnie would be rolling in his grave right now, all this talk of money with seemingly NOT ONE thought put toward the fans. Arnie would start with the fans and end with the fans, anything else will be an inferior product that fans will be lucky to benefit from. I said as much in last week’s Round Table. The money will be there when you consider fans first.

Schurman: In 1970, I wrote to Commissioner Dye suggesting exactly this format of talking to the players. His response was “no player in their right mind would allow that distraction”. Hughes did a great job! He is articulate and honest. Regarding his comments, all you have to do is study the performance of certain players who won big early in their careers. A number of them won majors, significant titles or a lot of money in a short time and then faded back to normalcy. They are still fine players; they still contend, and they win from time to time but the hunger to win seems to disappear somewhere around one or two majors or $20M in earnings.

Rule: Some have been commenting that Hughes is a bit of a hypocrite given he’s made millions from the Tour, but I think they are missing the point he’s trying to make.  Of course he’s lucky to have made a very good living but he should be in that position, as one of the best in the world at a sport.  I do like his comments, and I think it’s a feeling shared by many players and fans alike.  It’s clear that some players just chased the money with no regard for the history or legacy of the game.  But can you blame them?  It’s a lot of money!

Quinn: Hughes’ comments (are they so singular, and articulate, that they have to get a 3-peat?) certainly echo those by friends, neighbours, and playing partners. Avid players and former avid fans are now saying they didn’t see any of the weekend’s tourney, couldn’t care less. The money thing is huge and more and more golfers don’t care, not only about how much but how they ‘earn.’ it. Hughes is right, and the Tour knows it. But it may be making that realization too late.

Mumford: Congrats to Mac for speaking up and saying what a lot of people are thinking. He’s right, at its core, golf is supposed to be about determining who is best, not how much money they win. Many players seem to have  lost sight of that and the Tour hasn’t helped with all the handouts that don’t require competition like PIP and no cut tournaments. Fans don’t tune in to see how much anybody got paid. They tune in to see who’s the best.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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