Dear Masters viewer: Don’t be a rat

Tiger Woods takes his infamous drop on No. 15 in 2013, for which his was later penalized. (Curtis Compton/

AUGUSTA – Before this Masters gains steam, one request to all viewers of the best golf tournament ever held on this or any other planet. (Sorry, I was overcome there by the new construction fumes of this resort spa/Smithsonian museum of a media center they just opened at Augusta National).

Anyway, back to the request:

If you see something, say nothing.

If a golf ball happens to vibrate like an inchworm with a chill, or a golfer marks his ball and replaces it a micron from its original position, keep it to yourself. Don’t rush to the phone to report the incident to the authorities. It’s a golf tournament, not a suspicious package in the B Terminal.

Golf is supposed to be a Herbert Warren Wind essay, not an Arthur Conan Doyle whodunit.

So, just relax. Sit back, open another bag of Cheetos and behave like a sports fan is supposed to behave. And leave the officiating to the professional incompetents.

Big golf news broke out on the other side of the country this weekend. An alert viewer in desperate need of a mate noticed that Lexi Thompson had improperly replaced her ball after marking it on the green late in the third round of an LPGA major, the ANA Inspiration. Then a day later, eventually got around to emailing his/her concerns to the Tour.

To repeat, the infraction – ever so slight, affecting nothing – happened Saturday. On the back nine Sunday, with Thompson up three with six holes to play, she was informed that she was being penalized two strokes for the ball-marking misadventure and another two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard. Never mind that she had no clue she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

And, somewhere, an alert viewer was basking in his/her righteousness, as the protector of virtue and the guardian of truth.

Don’t try sneaking 11 items through the express lane at Publix in front of this eagle-eye. He or she will bring you down like the Roman Empire.

All of it was absurd. If we are going to start retroactively assessing penalties, I think there were a couple of holding calls against New England that went un-whistled in that last Super Bowl. Let’s step them off and replay that last quarter.

Tweeted Tiger Woods: “Viewers at home should not be officials wearing stripes. Let’s go @Lexi, win this thing anyway.”

Thompson ended up losing in a playoff. Woods was an appropriate commentator. It was a viewer – a pro golfer and sometime rules official in this case – who noted an incorrect drop by Woods in the 2013 Masters. He had strayed a bit too far from the spot of his original shot – which had clanged off the flagstick and caromed back into the water. The next morning, acting on this report, rules people assessed Woods two strokes.

More uproar ensued. Woods would finish four strokes back of champion Adam Scott.

The world has enough rule-makers and rule-keepers. It doesn’t need everyone else with a flat screen pitching in.

So, don’t be that guy. A weasel with DVR. A golf rat.

C’mon. You’re better than that.

Have to run now. I hear there’s an omelet bar back in the new media dining room.

Reader Comments 0


I have been emailing texting and tweeting rules violations that I see on TV and that the official missed during the events of all of the following: NFL, MLB, NBA, Professional Tennis, Bowling, Soccer, Wrestling, Chess, Checkers etc for years. I never get a correction. When will every other sport become as progressive and fan interactive as Professional Golf???  Golf officials are hilarious!


What exactly did the viewer do wrong?  At least golf allows its viewers to point out how the officials miss penalty calls and then correct them.  The person at fault here, and she's said so herself, is the golfer who committed the infraction and didn't report herself or acknowledge the mistake.


Allowing viewers to dictate penalties and assessing them retroactively tells you just how far out of touch golf's ruling bodies are today. It puts the players on tv the most at a greater disadvantage and invites subjectivity from viewers just looking for violations from certain players. Neither of these passes the litmus test for common sense which is why no other major sport has any rule remotely equivalent to these in their leagues. If the USGA and R&A don't veto this policy before 2019 when the amended rule book goes into effect the game stands to lose even more credibility which it cannot afford given its diminishing popularity already.


The golf officials that imposed that penalty are SO wrong!!  Truly one of the most ridiculous sports decisions in history and EVERYONE involved should be barred from the game.