Ring, ring, ring. “Hello, you have reached the office of the Commissioner of the National Football League. How may I help you?”
  “Hi, my name is Tim Geary and I’d like to speak to Roger Goodell please.”
  “One moment please.” 

  Ring, ring. “Hello?”

  “Hi Rog. I hope I’m not taking you away from watching the Black Eyed Peas or anything.”
  “Who is this?”
  “Well, you don’t know me. I’m just a fan watching the Super Bowl, but I had to call because I think I saw Chad Clifton holding during that first quarter touchdown pass that Rodgers threw to Nelson. I think you should take a look at the tape because it was pretty flagrant and nobody threw a flag.”
  Absurd you say?
  Certainly it’s absurd. Aside from the fact that an ordinary person could never get through to Goodell, it’s preposterous to suggest that a fan could call up to point out a missed holding penalty and expect that somebody would review the tape and then after the game announce; “Green Bay’s first quarter touchdown has been expunged because of a rules violation. Those points are now deemed null and void and thusly we have no other choice but to proclaim the Pittsburgh Steelers as Super Bowl Champions.”
  It’s ridiculous, yet it happens on the PGA Tour and I would expect has occurred on the LPGA Tour with alarming regularity.
  Fans watching a telecast observe a rules violation that the people in charge of the event miss and drop a dime on the offending player, resulting in either a penalty stroke(s) or sometimes disqualification.

  Yes, Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker during last year’s PGA tournament and needed to be penalized, but it should have been the result of observation from an official, not brought to everyone’s attention by some Joe Six Pack, who happens to have the PGA of America’s 800 number on his speed dial.

  Years ago Craig Stadler was penalized when he put a towel on the ground under a tree because he had to knee to address the ball and didn’t want to ruin his pants. Somebody reached out and touched ‘The Walrus’, citing an extreme of the “building a stance” rule.

  Fans are the lifeblood of any professional sport and none more so than golf, but watching a tournament and affecting the outcome are two very different things.

  It’s up to the officials of a tournament and the organization running the event to police their sport, not the viewing public. It’s up to the other players in the group to make sure their partners are not violating the rules. It’s part of their job.

  We certainly want everything to be above board and scoring to be accurate, but if a player has his or her ball move slightly after it’s been addressed, it shouldn’t be you or me, sitting on our couch, who calls it to anyone’s attention.

  Why can’t, for example, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem have a rules officials stationed someplace with a monitor, watching the same telecast as us?

  And that brings us to the other part of this situation. If Tiger Woods or other top players make a mistake (cheat?), everyone sees it because almost every shot they execute is recorded. But if the 150th player in the world commits the same infraction, they are likely not going to have it shown to however millions of viewers who have tuned in to watch the tournament. Therefore it’s selective enforcement and that in itself is blatantly unfair.

  We want our golf tournaments to be contested with integrity and for the winner to be decided honestly and without any reservations, but this practice of the public sticking its two cents worth in has to stop. 

  There’s a reason why they have ropes on the PGA and LPGA Tours — separation. It should extend even further than the fairways.


  (Tim Geary is a Rhode Island-based freelance writer, who has been covering golf since 1975. He only makes phone calls during tournaments to order Pizza).