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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Let's End the DQ Question Once and for All

Simon Dyson's DQ at the BMW Masters has renewed the debate about whether viewers should be able to "help" the officials catch rules violations. It's the same old story -- Dyson tapped down a spike mark on his putting line, which is a clear violation, but nobody caught it until a viewer called in several hours after Dyson signed his card. From what I've heard, it appears Dyson just had a "brain fart" and did it absentmindedly, but it's still a violation of the rules.

And, as we have all become painfully aware, the penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard is disqualification.

Well, it is most of the time. The ruling bodies of golf have agreed that, under certain conditions, the DQ penalty should be waived. (Tiger's incorrect drop at the Masters this year is one example.)

I think it's time the Rules of Golf entered the 21st Century and the DQ penalty is eliminated -- well, mostly eliminated. There are some rule breaches for which a DQ is the ONLY prescribed penalty. In those cases, the DQ penalty should be enforced as it always has.

What I'm talking about here are those pesky breaches where you receive a stroke penalty if you catch it before you sign your scorecard... or get DQ'ed if you don't. The penalty for the rule breach is adding strokes to your score. The penalty is for signing an incorrect scorecard is a DQ.

It's the incorrect scorecard penalty that I want to see eliminated. If you're going to allow viewers to call in rule breaches -- viewers who may not even see the event until several hours after the round is over -- then you've got to remove the penalty.

Why was that penalty created in the first place? Clearly it was to prevent cheating. But in the modern game, we have electronic scorekeeping to keep everybody honest. My gosh, at many events everybody's scores are constantly updated on giant scoreboards around the course!

But, more importantly, having your peers and fans consider you a cheater is the kiss of death to your career. Just think about the fallout from Brandel Chamblee's gaff in the last couple of weeks when he said Tiger had been "...a little cavalier with the rules." The fact that Tiger's agent reacted so quickly -- and that Chamblee backpedaled just as quickly -- should be enough to make that clear. And with the ever-present video cameras on the course to make sure everything gets seen -- that no cheater has a realistic chance of getting away with his crime -- the need for the DQ penalty simply isn't there anymore.

The solution for all this fuss is simple: Eliminate the DQ penalty for an incorrect scorecard and simply add the stroke penalties to each player's score once the infraction has been verified. It really is a simple solution that deals with all aspects of the problem:
  • The field is "protected" because violations are enforced. Nobody wants to see the violations ignored.
  • Because the infractions are on tape, it's a simple matter for both players and officials to go back and verify exactly what happened. Consequently there are fewer questions about the rightness of a ruling.
  • And players don't get the sudden shock of arriving at the course for their next round only to find there will be no next round. Players don't mind taking the penalty for their errors... but they'd like the chance to correct their scorecards and avoid a DQ.
It's time we bring golf out of the Dark Ages and into the Digital Age. Is that too much to ask? It's time to do away with the DQ penalty!!!


  1. Annie Park was dq'd earlier this month because that tourney wasn't televised

  2. But that's a good example, Phil. If they could figure out Annie's score well enough to determine that her scorecard was wrong, they could determine the correct score. (If you don't know the true score, how can she be DQ'ed for an incorrect score? What are they measuring it against?) They should have just corrected the score and applied any stroke penalty that she had incurred. All these DQs are going to do is slow play even more because eventually players will call officials for everything.