2003: Our Opinion - Not-so-welcome signs
Signs of the times to come:
Upon registration for an age-group tournament, produce your birth certificate.
Before leaving the practice range, submit your driver for spring-like effect testing.
When you arrive at the first tee, pick up your pace-of-play beeper and your performance data gathering device.
At the conclusion of play, scorecards will not be accepted before the player completes a mandatory review of sportsmanship guidelines.
Far-fetched? Not if recent events are any indication.
As first reported in Golfweek, the PGA of America had to take the unfortunate measure of revoking the 2002 Westfield Junior PGA championship won by Sung Ea Lee of Tacoma, Wash. Lee lied about her age on the entry application.
Lee knows she made a mistake. The stigma she’ll carry through the rest of her golf career is punishment enough. But the episode nonetheless is causing golf association administrators to re-evaluate their application procedures.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Golf Association announced the proposed implementation of a portable test for spring-like effect. There’s an undercurrent of suspicion on the PGA Tour that some clubs being used are “hotter” than USGA rules allow. When the portable test becomes available, will random testing at tournament sites be far behind?
The PGA Tour has new pace-of-play guidelines this season. Habitual violators are subject to stiff penalties and fines. The Tour also continues to fine-tune its gathering of performance statistics. An army of volunteers trails players at each event, using hand-held computers to report a mind- boggling array of information.
It only follows that a similar technology could be applied to the monitoring of pace of play. (Beep. “This is tournament headquarters, Mr. Langer. You are 1 minute, 32 seconds behind your allotted time.” Beep.)
The last disturbing specter of the changing face of golf comes from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Golfers long have been known among sports writers as the most accommodating of professional athletes. The increase of purses on Tour is matched only by its rate of ego inflation.
Many first-round Match Play losers, who earned $30,000 just for showing up, displayed child-like petulance after their rounds. Rich Beem, Chris DiMarco, David Duval and Sergio Garcia were just a few of the defeated players who blew off the media. That prompted the following headline in the next day’s Orange County Register: “Poor losers par for course.”
Sometimes, PGA Tour players forget just how good they have it. No question, it can be a stressful job, especially for those far down the money list. Traveling hundreds of miles each week is no fun, either.
But that’s no excuse not to show some common courtesy. You’d be hard-pressed to find writers ever shunned by Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus.
Then again, it’s a sign of the times. For a game based on trust, there’s a noticeable lack of it on the fairways these days.