PGA Tour Won’t Pull the Cord on Armchair Rules Officials
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

See a rules infraction on the telecast? Call 1-800-THIS-POLICY-SUCKS

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem won’t bring an end to allowing fans phone in rules infractions they see on the telecast from their homes. The practice has already triggered controversy early in 2011 after Camilo Villegas and Padraig Harrington were both disqualified for signing incorrect scorecards after viewers notified tournament officials of the violations. Though Finchem still welcomes fan involvement in enforcing the rules, he’d like to see more common sense applied in enforcing the infractions called in by vigilant armchair officials, according to the AP.

“We like the fact that people call in. We like the fact people who watch the telecasts get excited about something they see,” Finchem said.

“We don’t want to turn those people off. We want to accept the information and deal with it. Cutting them off is not an option. It is just a question of how the rule is applied,” he said in an interview Tuesday during a stop at Montreux Golf & Country Club to promote the 13th Reno-Tahoe Open Aug. 4-7 on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Finchem said the issue was examined at the USGA executive meeting last Friday in Phoenix and the USGA is evaluating the rule. After the controversial DQs, the question kicked around was whether the punishment fit the crime. Should a player be disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard when they had no way of knowing?

And is a two-stroke penalty appropriate when you’re aware of the rule, but “when there is no way you reasonably could have known you made a penalty — even if you knew the rule, like in Harrington’s case,” said Finchem.

“In Harrington’s case, you could see the ball move a little bit in HD television. You couldn’t see it move in analog. And he didn’t know. So there needs to be fairness and common sense to the rule.”

Finchem expects the verdict will come to “a few, little, small” changes and the PGA Tour will follow the USGA’s lead.

Golfweek‘s James Achenbach tweeted on Tuesday, “New golf rules decision coming on DQs because of TV viewers. Players to be spared DQ if they can’t see or feel what technology reveals.”

Let’s go ahead and call it the “Paddy-Dimplegate Rule.” Sounds fair to me, but I can imagine there will still be gray areas that make it difficult to make a determination on what one can see or feel.