Bio Kim suspension still ridiculous, cell phone epidemic needs addressing

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Bio Kim suspension still ridiculous, cell phone epidemic needs addressing

Professional

Bio Kim suspension still ridiculous, cell phone epidemic needs addressing

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If the Korean Professional Golfers’ Association wanted to correct a wrong, it failed.

Yes, Bio Kim flipping the bird at a cell-phone wielding moron took “conduct unbecoming” to a new level. His “crime” is worthy of the $8,350 fine he received. But the reduced one-year suspension and 120 hours of community service ordered by the KPGA looks no less ridiculous than his original three-year sentence, reflecting more poorly on the internationally low profile circuit than Kim and his admittedly classless (but funny in some cultures) outburst.

After all, the man got down on his knees, begged for forgiveness and will be remembered for angrily slamming a club, then flipping off a fan who distracted him mid-swing in the heat of a final round. He is now without a tour to play. And play, he can.

Kim won the tournament even after hitting a 100-yard dribbler induced by the cell phone noise and is a former PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour cardholder. Any tournament providing Kim a sponsor’s invite over the next year would not be endorsing lewd behavior. Instead, such a spot would be a nice way of overcompensating for the embarrassment that some tournaments have become, with fans all thinking they’re Hy Peskin and clogging up servers with blurry, junky photos.

Given how absurd the mobile phone documentation of golf shots continues to be — except one glorious week a year — the golf tournament world needs to find places for Kim to play. If nothing else, it would be a slight overcompensation for allowing phone usage around play.

Tours have not actively discouraged the behavior, believing they might lower their spectating demographic by allowing all of the wannabe Zapruders to share the moment in hopes of attracting new fans. Some of those demographics take it personally when anyone tries to break them free of their devices — millennials, are you listening?

Even after all these years and so few folks still leaving their ringers on, phones continue to make noise at the wrong moments. Even the movement of limbs and bodies “to get the shot” is a distraction when you’re trying to hit a shot.

Outside of caddies, who are seen as villains for daring to ask spectators to mute their minuscule machines, golf’s encouragement of excessive documentation continues to interfere with play. And no, it’s not a volunteer marshal’s job either.

There is also the look on television. Just watch a few minutes of this week’s Zozo Championship.

While there has been great inspiration in seeing images of so many Japanese fans happy to see the world’s best play the Zozo, the sight gets downright weird when we see up-close images. Many are viewing the tournament through their phone or capturing video. The effect is almost voyeuristic to those watching at home. And for players, who already have enough on their plates, the prospect of some device-related distraction makes their delicate task that much trickier.

Just about any golfer who has been bothered by a noise on their swing relates to Kim’s plight. And any spectator who must see a player start the pre-shot routine all over again has been equally annoyed. So tournament directors, do Kim and the KPGA a favor by letting the poor lad back inside the ropes. He should not be made a poster child for bad-boy behavior. The person most guilty of conduct-unbecoming was outside the ropes.

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