Throughout Sunday’s Safeway Open remaining spherical we had yet one more instance of the backstopping follow prevalent solely in males’s skilled golf (right here, right here and right here for 2017 samples). In case you have not been watching, that is the now-common apply the place golf balls are left down on a inexperienced until it is within the path to the opening, with numerous motives and theories as to why this has turn into apply as an alternative of gamers merely marking their ball to guard the sector. Velocity of play is cited because the reasoning.

As Will Grey factors out right here for, Tony Finau was possible saved a shot in the course of the 2017 Safeway Open ultimate spherical when he had a buried lie with enjoying associate Jason Kokrak’s 34-yard wedge shot was close to the cup. In a publish spherical interview with George Savaricus, Finau stated he’d forgotten Kokrak’s ball was by the opening when he hit. 

“Humorous factor is, I forgot he hit. I used to be so targeted on what I wanted to do and the way arduous my shot was,” Finau stated. “I hit an ideal shot, however it was nonetheless going to go about 25-30 ft previous. It was a bonus to hit his ball. I used the principles to my benefit, I assume, not figuring out.”

Finau completed second, one forward of Phil Mickelson and two behind winner Brendan Steele.

Right here is the shot that elicited a response from PGA Tour Participant of the Yr Justin Thomas.

In responding to Grey, Thomas stated the follow of enjoying with a ball down by the opening occurs “MAYBE” 5 occasions a yr and is “a part of the sport, if I need to rush and hit a shot for that cause, it is my proper.”

So to recap: the participant of the yr says it is his proper to hurry a shot earlier than a participant can mark it, to realize a bonus that occurs perhaps 5 occasions a yr. There you’ve it!

The implication of Thomas’ second tweet is unclear to me. He retweeted a fan’s thought associated to grandstands and spectators that means he views this as a rub of the inexperienced matter, even whereas believing it is his proper to reap the benefits of a competitor’s ball on the inexperienced.

Someplace Bobby Jones is harumphing at this admission.

The Guidelines permit a event committee to disqualify a participant in the event that they decided “gamers have agreed to not raise a ball which may help any competitor.”

Thomas additionally advised the gamers are sometimes too distant to mark a ball in time and that is why the apply happens…5 occasions a yr, “MAYBE”.

Half the time in these instances–that is MAYBE 2.5 occasions a yr in Thomas’s considering–the strolling distance is apparently too nice for a participant to attend, as Thomas demonstrated on the ultimate day at TPC Boston earlier this season when Marc Leishman chipped as much as the sixth gap and Thomas performed shortly to take pleasure in what we now know was a hoped-for benefit.

But when we take the Kokrak-Finau instance at Safeway, it might require an additional 20-22 seconds to have walked the 34 yards to slap a coin down earlier than Finau performed. Since Finau forgot Kokrak had hit, this wasn’t attainable. I am unsure the way you overlook that a enjoying associate hit a shot, however alas, that is the state of affairs.

Thomas believes an excessive amount of consideration is being paid to the topic, however outstanding others usually are not agreeing.

Whereas many do not see this follow as a serious concern, I don’t agree for the quite simple purpose that skilled golf’s success is constructed on the integrity of its gamers. Firms pay handsomely to be a part of skilled golf as a result of they view the athletes as probably the most trustworthy and upstanding in all of sports activities. Many followers comply with the game and adore it as a result of the athletes have such integrity.

Having a prime participant brazenly confessing to profiting from a ball on the inexperienced to probably higher his probabilities of ending close to the opening, is just not nice. If we discovered that his friends is aware of he does this and depart the occasional ball down to assist him, we might have the makings of disqualification for violating the principles. That that is even a “factor” speaks to a cultural shift and conduct that, if it turns into commonplace, might trigger some to query the integrity of the gamers. Or, on the very least, make followers query if the gamers are legitimiately competing or colluding for peculiar causes.

Apart from, play may be sped up in a lot better methods than this.