The rise of the armchair official

Should TV viewers be able to alter the outcome of a golf tournament?

I recently penned my first piece for GolfLink – “Putting armchair officials on trial” discusses the effect TV viewers have had on the results of a golf tournament by calling in rules infringements to tournament officials.

The more recent, most famous Tiger Woods infractions discussed but so are much earlier incidents when couch critics have enforced disqualifications and penalties on golfers from the comfort of their lounge room.

Possibly the first instance of a TV viewer having an effect on the outcome of a golf tournament occurred way back in 1987 during a tournament at Torrey Pines.

Craig “The Walrus” Stadler decided to play a shot under a tree. Forced to play the shot from his knees, Stadler laid out a towel on the ground to avoid getting his pants dirty. Stadler finished the tournament in second place until a viewer called in to say the shot was a violation of the “building a stance” rule. Stadler was disqualified.

Check out the full article at GolfLink and we’re keen to hear your thoughts on this. In the age of high-definition, slo-mo and instant replay, we’re only going to be seeing a lot more of this.

4 thoughts on “The rise of the armchair official

  • With respect to ‘armchair officials’, the question that I ask is;
    a) would a player rather be penalised for breaching a Rule that they did not know, or did not realise that they had committed?
    or b) would a player rather get away with a breach that was viewed by one or more viewers and then went viral through social media, so that thousands of golfers around the world were criticising them for months/years afterwards, particularly if they went on to win a substantial prize, as a result of avoiding a penalty that they had incurred but not included on their score card?
    It is my contention that most professional golfers want to be advised of any penalties they incur in competition, no matter who observes them.
    Barry Rhodes

  • Interestingly enough, it looked to me that Stewart Appleby breached the rules in one particular incident over the weekend at The Australian Open. He was in the rough and the ball was lying on sand, surrounded by leaves and twigs. At one stage he appeared (to me) to move sand as he was brushing stuff away. He then proceeded to remove more leaves and twigs quite carefully. They didn’t replay his actions and all the commentators said was that his ball was lying in a footprint made by a size 17 shoe, or something similar. I didn’t (nor wouldn’t) call in about it, but I would be curious to see a replay (where I might be proven wrong!).

  • If a player is penalised due to the view of a TV viewer, effectively the rules officials are overturning the custom of relying on the player and his marker. I think the opinions of TV viewers, some of whom are no doubt pedants, should be taken into account only in the case of a clear breach where the player gains an advantage. To my mind a clear breach is one that does not require a slo mo replay.

  • I watched a professional take a drop (at Royal Melbourne) which finished in a poor lie. He called over his marker and claimed his ball came to rest nearer the hole (it hadn’t). After taking his second drop his ball came to rest about 1/2 a metre closer to the hole than the drop that he called incorrect.
    For some strange reason I seem to believe that there are many golfers who would prefer not to be beaten by someone not playing golf as honestly as possible to the knowledge they have of the rules.
    Surely all professionals know the rules and need to be setting an example better than the best of the amateur golfers.
    Golf doesn’t need to take a lesson from soccer where self interested acting is accepted if it advantages your team.


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