Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Are Scorecards Necessary?

Hello, and welcome to the newest blog on the golf scene. My name is Casey Jones, and I live in Decatur, Georgia, a little city just on the outskirts of downtown Atlanta. For the last ten years, I’ve been deeply involved in the world of professional golf, first as a scoreboard calligrapher (right about now, you’re probably saying, “A what???”), and more recently as a full-fledged Scoring Official for the PGA TOUR. I have traveled all over the country for the last decade, following the top professional tours and getting to know some of the regular characters that live out there. I’m hoping that my blog will not only give my insights on this wonderful game, but also shed some light on life behind the scenes at golf’s highest level.

Concerning my job, the question I’m asked the most (besides “Who is the biggest jerk on TOUR?”) is “With all of today’s technology, with television spotters and walking scorers with each group, why do you still need scorecards and the penal rules that are associated with screwing them up?” This is a legitimate question, and I know disqualification from a tournament seems harsh just for not checking your scores diligently, but…

My take on it is simple. Someone has to be ultimately responsible for what the player scored on each hole. Who better for this job than…THE PLAYER! Scorecards have existed since the beginning of competitive golf for a reason, so that the player can verify and sign off on what he or she actually made on each hole. Golfers need to realize that their round is not officially over until they have taken the extra time needed to thoroughly check their scorecard. These days, they are given a table inside a tent or trailer, away from distractions, so they can focus on the task at hand. If they play tournament golf, they should be confident what they had on each hole, and if they just concentrate for a few minutes, should be able to confirm this on their scorecard. Anytime a player is disqualified for signing for a lower score, or penalized by having to accept a higher score signed for…it’s their own fault! Their own absent-mindedness or laziness has caused the problem, and it cannot be blamed on anyone else. It’s the same as if they did something blatantly wrong in the course of play…they need to be penalized.

Not every competitive golfer has the luxury of playing with television spotters (or even scorekeepers) walking with their group, so why should only a handful of the top touring pros be exempt from their scorecard responsibilities? The rules of golf need to stay the same for everyone. And imagine this exchange after the round…
Tiger: “What gives? All of the leaderboards say I’m 5-under, and I’m really 6-under!”
Official: ”Tiger, both the volunteer who was scoring for your group and the TV spotter had you for a bogey on #5.”
Tiger: “That’s incorrect. I thought about taking a drop, but I actually played a great shot from the hazard, and made par.”
Official: “Well, what do you want us to do about it? Verifying your own scores after the round has been eliminated. We have to trust the witnesses. Sorry.”
Tiger: “Wait a minute! When it’s all said and done, I should be able to confirm my actual scores, for crying out loud!”

Official: “You’re right, and that sounds like a great job for…lo and behold, our old friend the SCORECARD!”
I know there will always be the scorecard nay-sayers, but honestly, there is really no other fair way to do it. A player is given every opportunity to sign off on his or her correct score, and if they can stay focused for five-plus hours on the golf course, they can stay focused for five more minutes after their round. If they ever do away with scorecards in the big-time events, I cannot wait for the pandemonium that will ensue when the scores aren’t adding up correctly. Since this is my specific area of expertise out on TOUR, I’m sure there will be much more blog chatter about it down the road. Stay tuned, because I’ve got some great stories from inside the scoring trailer.

Until next time, I am Casey Jones, founder of Casey Jones Golf , and I hope you find your way back to my blog. Take care and God bless!

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