TRUE fan interference -- is this good or bad?

During a recent golf tournament, Juli Inkster violated a rule by using a weight on her golf club during practice swings to stay loose during a break in the action – story here. Apparently, this violation warrants a disqualification from the tournament. However, no tournament official saw her do this, and Inkster herself apparently didn’t realize that she’d broken the rules, so she didn’t turn herself in.

So how, you may ask, was she found out? Someone watching the tournament on television at home spotted her doing this, called tournament officials and reported her. And upon review, they agreed that she’d broken the rules and they DQ’ed her.

My question to you is, does this strike you as being a good thing? I mean, sure, if you break the rules, you ought to be punished. And this isn’t a team sport situation where if you break the rules and get away with it, it can affect the entire outcome of the game for both sides. But I’m wondering if, even in an individual competition sport like golf, someone who isn’t even at the event and has no official capacity within the sport should be able to make a phone call to bust someone. If the officials don’t spot it, should that be the end of the story?

Are the PBA and the USTA and WPA going to be flooded with phone calls complaining about a player rolling an extra practice ball in bowling, or tennis rackets made of unobtanium, or a billiards player who nicked a ball with her finger that the ref didn’t see? And if so, is that a bad thing?

What do you think?

(And if this thread is better served in GD, so be it, but I’m not sure it’ll rise to that level.)

The fans should have zero real-time input into the way the officials do their jobs.

Wow. This is a controversy that I never imagined happening.
I saw the subject and thought ‘Oh boy, some other idiot baseball fan interfered with a homerun’ but I was wrong.

The TV viewer could tell that she had a practice weight on her club?
Geez! I guess HD really does make things sharper, eh?

I suppose that golf is a special sport because the golfers are expected to police themselves.
Given that, I think the fan calling in should have been ignored.

Thinking about that, I wonder who the heck would have the right phone number to call.

Presumably they asked her if she had done this, and the reason she said that she had - after all she did not think she was breaking the rules.

Had she denied it, absent other evidence I cannot see she would have been dsiqualified on a call in from a viewer.

Though, of course, they would have had the tape to go back and check… My guess is still she confessed. From reading the OP again though I could be wrong.

They would have DQ’d her after reviewing the footage. They were going to review the footage after the fan called it in. Golf is like that. I have no problem with it.

I’m not quite sure that’s how it happened. Here’s the quote from the Director of Tournament Play: “We would have loved to have some wiggle room on that. But it’s pretty cut and dried. Being the professional she is, there wasn’t much to say once the decision was read.” Emphasis added.

I read that to mean that she had no input on their decision to DQ her. So either she was still using the weight when they confronted her about it, or they went back and reviewed tape. The article doesn’t make that clear. But it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with her policing herself, the way I’m interpreting the article.

I’ve got no huge issue with it. She broke the rules, got caught, and was DQ’d. It’s the way golf works. There’s a lot of more sympathetic situations out there, such as signing a card with a score too high.

I knew you could not do that when I played Publinx. I used to hide my donut in the bottom of the bag so I would not forget. On a good day. I was smart enough to leave it in the car.

Too bad they don’t do that in real sports. Imagine TV viewers calling out of bounds and toe-on-the-line plays in the NBA.

The real question is why golf has such an arbitrary rule

Rules are rules. She broke them. What difference does it make who saw it? The fan still didn’t make the ruling, the officials did. I have no problem with this at all. I think it should be encouraged. What’s wrong with ensuring that people follow the rules? It’s a good thing. If the players know they’re being monitored every second, they won’t try to cheat.

Ignorance of the rules is no excuse, by the way.

I think this could set a terrible precedence. This fan was apparently right, but in the future, will they listen to every fan complaint and do something about it? If not, how will they know which ones to listen to? In short, I don’t think fans should generally have a direct impact on the officiating of a sport. Things will inevitably be missed, and if it’s a fundamental problem, rather than getting fans involved real time, they should address the problem directly, whether it be having more officials, positioning them differently, implementing some sort of instant replay, or whatever. It’s one thing if you’re in the stadium of a sport, see a bad call, and yell at the ref because he’s within earshot, as surely most of the rest of the fans are, but it’s another thing to actually have an individual fan to be able to have enough to actually get them to talk to her and/or review it.

I also think golf has a fundamental problem with a lot of their rules. Yes, it’s in the rules, and she shouldn’t get a slide for not knowing about it, but I don’t understand why using a practice weight is bad enough that it warrants a DQ. I remember someone I saw on SportsCenter just last week about a golfer who was in a sand trap, but didn’t think it was since it didn’t look like it, and because an official has to be asked about a ruling, he got penalized for grounding his club, which he wouldn’t have done if he’d known he was in a sand trap and, as a result, lost a shot at a playoff.

I just think it’s pretty silly when you have these kinds of rules where people aren’t losing because they’re legitimately beat, but because of some technicality. These aren’t examples of people using a cork bat or injecting steroids, these rule infractions aren’t being broken intentionally and, AFAICT, aren’t even bestowing any sort of competitive advantage. I just think they need to find a way to make it easier for the honest players to avoid rules infractions and, perhaps, lax up a little on the penalties for technicalities.

Craig Statler was flagged by a fan a few years ago. His crime was putting a towel on the ground when he had to swing from his knees. He was under a tree . The fan called and claimed he was “building a stance” which is illegal. I think he was trying to keep his pants clean. I think he was DQs.

My understanding is that this is nothing new. Fans call in all the times, claiming they’ve seen something. The officials can then review tape and see if there’s anything to it, but it’s still the officials that make the rulings, not the fans. So what’s the problem? If no rule is broken, then the officials will rule that way. I don’t see an upside to NOT calling penalties if the rules really are broken,though. What if it’s something really egregious, like a player deliberately improving a lie or moving a ball? If the officials on the field don’t see it, should it be like it never happened?


The problem I see is that there are millions of fans who could flood the call lines with claims, each one would need to be investigated…wouldn’t this effectively grind play to a halt? Or what if an ump or referee made a bad call, and upset fans start “spamming” him with claims that “need to be investigated”? I’m not against the principle of enforcing the rules properly, but I can see problems coming from giving spectators the power to make officials do things at their whim.

The officials don’t have to do anything, and play isn’t halted it goes on while things are reviewed on video. As I said before, this isn’t new. Fans have been doing this for years. they don’t flood lines, they don’t halt play and it’s very rare that it results in actual penalties being called. It’s at the discretion of the officials whether or not to review something. They don’t have to do it just because somebody calls something in, but occasionally they do if they think it’s something credible. If they think it’s a crank, they ignore it.

ETA, I’m only saying that this seems to work ok for golf. I wouldn’t suggest it for any other sport. It works for golf because retroactively penalizing a player in golf does not affect the rest of the field.

Golf is such a patheticly pedantic sport. I agree with Mike Greenberg that their enforcement of these silly rules is the polar opposite of gentlemanly. They should be ashamed of themselves.

If the rules are stupid then get rid of them, but as long as they’re on the books, they have to enforce them. It’s not like officials have discretion about that.

Of course they have discretion. They’re the officials. They have discretion pretty much by definition. “We have to enforce the rules” is a chickenshit cop-out. Golf pompously touts itself as such a gentlemanly game. Know what else is gentlemanly? Discretion.

What is silly about a rule like this? You aren’t allowed to use these weights. It’s your responsibility to know these rules. I don’t think this is a course or tourney specific rule - you cannot use them in competition full stop.

And golf is different - the rules are meant to be self enforced. She didn’t know this rule so could not self enforce it, but I fully expect that if she had, and just temporarily forgot it, she would have reported herself even if it meant disqualification.

I don’t have a problem with the penalties on Inkster (or DJ at the PGA), since they both clearly broke the rules. However, there is a bit of an issue that the players are not really treated equally. Inkster gets a DQ because somebody saw the violation on TV, which was only possible because the TV coverage chose to show it. If some Jane Doe did the same thing on the 4th hole of the first round, it would not have been caught. The DJ thing is similar - my guess is that the same rule violation occurred several times throughout the tournament, but nobody was paying much attention then.