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RandBall: Golf's ridiculous rule almost disqualifies Luke Donald

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • April 6, 2012 - 9:11 AM

 

Golf's obsession with making the simplest things ridiculously difficult was underscored again yesterday -- and it nearly cost the No. 1 golfer in the world a chance to compete in perhaps the most prestigious tournament in the world.

 

What happened? Per ESPN.com:

Luke Donald avoided disqualification from the Masters on Thursday when it was determined his first-round score was improperly entered in the tournament's scoring system because a fax machine produced a smudged number.

Donald, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, shot 75 in the opening round at Augusta National, but tournament scoreboards had him for a 73 because his score was improperly read after it had been faxed to those recording the scores.

Had Donald really signed for a 73 when shooting a 75, he would have been disqualified. The error occurred at the par-4 fifth hole, where Donald three-putted for a bogey 5 and acknowledged as much after the round. But the score went down as a 3 in the scoring system because officials read it as a 3 -- not the 5 that Donald told them was written on the card.

Could there possibly be a dumber way to record scores in a sport?

Per golf's long-standing tradition, players are required to essentially keep score for themselves. They are beholden to know what score they had on each hole, and their round is not official until they sign their scorecard. Failure to do so -- or signing, accidentally or not, for a score lower than what a golfer actually achieved, has resulted in disqualification in countless tournaments over the years.

While we understand the noble ideas of accountability, fair play and sportsmanship which go into this concept, we've still always found the scorecard rule in golf to be insane. Can you imagine a football game result being overturned because a head coach forgot to put his signature on the final score? Can you imagine NBA players having to keep track of their own point totals? At a tournament like The Masters, it should be the job of an official -- not a player -- to keep track of the score.

But even if we can at least see the principle at play with golf's tradition, how on earth does it make sense to then send the score via FAX MACHINE to someone else, who then records the scores? A fax machine? Seriously? Was it too inconvenient to make a photocopy, seal it up in an envelope and mail it? Did Augusta run out of tin cans connected by strings? This is 2012. Data travels faster than a downhill putt. Even if using such an antiquated type of technology fits the overall philosophy at Augusta National, there absolutely should not be faxing -- thus eliminating the chance that there would be smudges on said faxes.

Seriously, stories like the Donald situation make golf look silly. Until we read something even more ridiculous -- "Carrier pigeon error reverses result of NHL playoff game; Flyers advance" -- golf will be alone in its shame.

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