Jan
28
2010
Outdated PGA Tour Pulls the Plug on Shipnuck’s Live Tweeting
By Stephanie Wei under General

In the midst of Alan Shipnuck’s enjoyable, informative live tweets of the action at the Farmers Insurance Open, the Sports Illustrated scribe received an email from the old farts at the PGA Tour demanding him to stop. Why? Because of some preposterous rule from like 1972.

Alan –

Hello friend.  Unfortunately I have to slap your hand and ask that you stop with any sort of play-by-play via Twitter, which is a violation of our media regulations.  You can certainly use Twitter to cover some aspects of the event (your info on Jason Day’s girlfriend, Phil’s Ping wedge, etc), but anything that replicates shot-by-shot descriptions on a real-time basis is not allowed.

Copying Joel in since he’s on site and can help clarify.

Thanks.

Shipnuck was breaching Rule 7-c of the Tour’s media regulations, whereby “coverage must not purport to be live, play-by-play, hole-by-hole or real-time coverage.” Apparently the Tour isn’t aware of the PR benefits reaped by social media. Though the suits at Ponde Vedra would probably argue they’re totally in tune — you know, just because they have a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Shipnuck has declared jihad against the Tour and its absurd rule, though, and he didn’t hold back from voicing his objection via Twitter, of course:

Supposedly I’m violating some media regulation that dates to an era when reporters used manual typewriters.

You would think the Tour would want fans to be able to live and die on every shot by their favorite player.

Since I can’t do play by play I think I’ll fill the time spreading rumors. Guess which Tour exec has a fetish for… Kidding. Kind of.

After his Twitter followers pointed out that Golf World’s Ron Sirak was also tweeting the play-by-play, Shipnuck and Sirak received this follow-up email:

Ron –  Please see below.  I would hate for Alan to think I’m playing favorites.  You can also call me “persnickety” on your Twitter feed if you would like.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings.

Meanwhile, a bemused Shipnuck chose to defy the edict and continued with his real-time updates. What a renegade!

Rumor has it Phil just tapped in for birdie. I can neither confirm nor deny.

I am prepared to accept my martyrdom, though, frankly, 72 virgins seems a little excessive.

I wish I could tell you that Phil hit a perfect drive at 7. But I can’t.

I’m a good boy so I won’t mention that Phil just pounded a huge drive and got home in 2 on the par-5 6th…

Nor shall I mention his mediocre approach that spun back down the green, leaving 50 for birdie….

Phil may or may not have just stuck his tee shot on the par-3 8th to 15’.

Was that huge groan because Phil missed his birdie putt? I’ll never tell!

Well played.

My guess is the Tour feels live tweeting is detrimental because: A) takes away from the page views garnered from people following their rudimentary online Live Shot Tracker and “Live Report”; B) deters fans from watching the TV coverage (even when it’s not being aired); C) discourages people from attending the event; D) dislikes free PR; and E) enjoys alienating fans.

But really, if anything, it would do just the opposite and draw more interest to the game. This newfangled thing called Twitter is the most fan-friendly source for info. Following the tweets of guys like Shipnuck and Sirak impart distinct details of the action — which are enlightening while also entertaining.

So, will the Tour change its policy? Shipnuck quipped, “Maybe….in two years. Nimble the Tour is not.”

At the end of the day, the score stands — Shipnuck: double-eagle, PGA Tour: triple-bogey.