They took the fall for Woods, golf’s biggest draw, but hardly for altruistic reasons. They were protecting the weekend ratings on CBS and their share of the take. And sure enough, CBS returned the favor by having host Jim Nantz essentially whitewash the whole thing in the opening few minutes of the telecast.
Asking a club where change arrives at a glacial pace to move fast would be too much. Besides, the green jackets wield too much power to be pushed around. So here’s an incremental change that’s cost-effective and will likely ensure the problems this year don’t pop up again.
The game’s three other major championships already employ a rules official to walk with each group. Had one been along with Guan, and even Woods, one of the most knowledgeable players in golf, the tournament probably would have been spared plenty of aggravation and a lot of wasted time.
While defending the decision on Woods, competition committee chairman Fred Ridley was asked whether the club would reconsider its policy and provide rules officials for each group.
“Well, that’s not something we talked about,” he began. “If there’s one thing about the Masters tournament, whether it’s whether or not we’re going to have chicken sandwiches next year or whatever, we look at everything. So we’ll be looking at this situation, what could we do in the future, is there any different processes we could employ?”
A word of advice, Fred: Bring back the chicken sandwiches, and then hand one on the first tee to the rules officials you ought to hire to walk the course with every group.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.