Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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Viewer drops dime, Inkster DQed

Written by Bob Oliver on .

I called into Major League Baseball offices and let them know a ball called in yesterday's game was really a strike.


To my surprise, MLB didn't change the call.


Interestingly enough, a wrong call was made on a holding call in the Eagles game over the weekend. I e-mailed the National Football League offices and let them know, but they too didn't change the call.


But some yahoo calls or writes the LPGA Tour and drops a dime on Juli Inkster in the Safeway Classic and before you can say goodbye America's favorite golfing mom was disqualified.


Her crime? Picking her ball up and dropping it in the hole?


Telling her playing partner her putt "was good".


Using a square grooved club?


Using performance enhancing drugs?


None of the above.


Inkster, in one of those endless waits on the tee (about 30 minutes) wanted to stay warmed up. So she inserted a weighted attachment (a "doughnut" similar to what baseball players use in the on deck circle) and took some practice swings. That's it. She could just as easily lifted her golf bag 10 times, and that would have been perfectly legal. But she didn't.


A television viewer contacts the LPGA, and Inkster, just a couple shots out of the lead, gets to leave the course on a walk of shame.


Give me a break.


I know, I know, rules are rules. I know Dustin Johnson was in a phantom bunker at the PGA Championship and grounded his club (where was that rake, anyway?). I know that because after the tournament they took a picture of it, and sure enough, it was a bunker. But in the heat of battle, with people standing in the "hazard" all day, nobody could tell. He was supposed to be clairvoyant.


There was a rules official right there, watching the whole escapade, and he didn't think it appropriate to say anything to Johnson.


Give me a break.


At that same PGA Championships, Jim Furyk was battling into contention, playing extremely well. When he grabbed his putter on one hole he noticed a magnet from his putter cover on the putter blade. He hadn't used the club, couldn't  imagine there was a problem, but did the right thing. He informed the rules official. That set open a Keystone Comedy of errors, as it took more than an hour for a ruling to return that cleared the Chester County native.


Here's the problem, because it took more than an hour to resolve Furyk lost his concentration, his cool, and any ability to win. While he wasn't penalized, it "cost" him as many as four shots as his game went to hell in a hand basket while the PGA of America, USGA, R&A and probably callers to 1-800-rulesrus discussed his fate.


Give me a break.


Juli Inkster is an honorable, rules abiding, upstanding lady. If she broke the rules, she should be disciplined. But this idea that a random caller, a member of the armchair sitting television police, can simply call in and affect the outcome of a tournament is ridiculous. Incredible.


The LPGA player was disqualified for violating the USGA's Rules of Golf, Rule 14-3, which outlaws the use of practice devices during rounds. Swinging two or three clubs to warm up is fine, but a weight attached to the club is a no no. Hey it's a rule, she broke it, see you later. Nothing was said on site, no rules official called a penalty. No, a viewer did the dirty deed.


Golf is a gentleman and gentlewoman game. Players regularly call penalties on themselves. Bizarre calls and e-mails should not. Brian Davis did call a penalty on himself and it cost him victory at Hilton Head this year. So it's not like players are cheating and getting away with it. They police themselves. By allowing callers, emailers, whatever to call the game is a sham. This is not American Idol, where you call in to an 800 number and make your feelings know. It is professional golf.  \


Here's an idea. Create a the new FWL: Fantasy Watchers League. Participants can watch sporting events and call in infractions. They's get points for each time they uncovered a dastardly deed. At the end of the year the winner could pick his or her sport and actually don an official's outfit and "work" the game.


Until then, shut up.


No other major league sport offers such a venue for millions of "armchair rules officials" to call in and change the outcome of a tournament. Period.


This behavior has got to stop.


Put viewers on a Do not call list. Don't answer e-mails until Monday. Stop the insanity.