It's a debate we've often had in hockey, but seldom in golf.
How much leeway to exercise judgment do you give a referee in the closing stages of an important competition?
It used to be in the waning stages of a Stanley Cup playoff game, referees would put their whistles away and "let the players decide the game."
For the most part in the NHL now, what was a penalty in the first period is a penalty in the third or even in overtime.
After Sunday's Bridgestone final, Tiger Woods is clearly in the "let the players play" camp.
Woods was ticked when official John Paramor put he and Padraig Harrington "on the clock," on the 16th hole. You know what happened: Woods hit what might be the shot of the year, Harrington, looking rushed, made a snowman and the Irishman's one-shot lead turned into a three-shot deficit.
"You never want to be the guy who influences the outcome, but you have to do your job. Paramor was doing his job," said one veteran Canadian rules guy. "If the tournament director wants to intervene and say 'let 'em play,' he can, but you're not being fair to the rest of the field if you don't do your job. Youíre darned if you and darned if you don't. If he doesn't call it, he could get criticized by other players for having a double standard."
The RCGA isn't giving its rules people any leeway.
At this week's Canadian Amateur championship in Blainville, Que., the RCGA is enforcing its 14-minute rule (new for national championships this year) which dictates a group is out of position if they donít put the flag in the hole 14 minutes after the group ahead.
There are four checkpoints on the course (at Le Blainvillier it's after the fifth, ninth, 13th and 18th holes). A group is issued a warning on the first offence and could get a one-stroke penalty for the second, two strokes for the third and disqualification for the fourth.
There is an appeal process and if it's determined one player in the group is responsible for a group being out of position, only the responsible player will be accessed the penalty.
"It's working," said the rules guy.
Here and there
How much longer are PGA Tour guys going to be allowed to Twitter? Ian Poulter was apologizing Tuesday after posting a Twitpic which showed Camilo Villegas and another guy flipping the bird as they sat on their private jet. "Yes, apparently it's offended lots of people, more for the younger generation, I'm only trying to have fun, but gone too far I guess. Sorry," tweeted Poulter. People complain these guys are too buttoned-down and some complain when they push envelope. I thought it was kind of funny, so lighten up, everybody ... Todayís the day the International Olympic Committee's executive board decides which two of seven sports -- golf is one being considered -- will be picked for the 2016 Olympic Games (the final decision by the full IOC will be made in October). While the IOC added a sport like tennis, it has largely embraced sports like snowboarding, beach volleyball and trampoline over the years. Golf just doesn't seem to fit the profile, though having Woods say heíd play doesn't hurt, I bet ... Dustin Risdon of Strathmore, Alta., will be trying to get back into the top 25 and in a position to get a PGA Tour card on the Nationwide Tour this week. He was the guy on the bubble in 25th last week, but dropped to 28th.
Just when you wonder where they can go next with the golf ball, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen are expected to use TaylorMade's new five -- (yeah, five) -- piece ball this week at the PGA. It's called the Penta. The five pieces -- cover, three mantles and a core -- are each designed to maximize performance in five different areas: driver, long, mid- and short-irons and partial wedge shots. It will be available to the public Dec. 1.
With the season's final major upon us, I wonder where have these guys been: 1. Adam Scott. One spot ahead of Tom Watson on the money list says it all. 2. Ernie Els. The Big Easy has slipped from ninth to 26th in the world. 3. Sergio Garcia. One top 10 in 12 starts on PGA Tour. 4. Brant Snedeker. He's been slipping since his breakthrough in 2007. 5. Justin Rose. No top 10s in 16 starts Stateside; T13 at British maybe hints at better things to come ... Putter marketing whiz Scotty Cameron is coming out with his California line of putters in September. Pros got their first look at the PGA this week. A distinguishing feature is they are "honey dipped," imparting a gold hue on the stainless steel.
The CPGA Women's Championship, which was due to wrap up yesterday in Toronto, had a strong field with a number of LPGA players. Given LPGA events are dropping off the schedule like pounds off of John Daly, the tournament should continue to have a strong field. LPGA players just don't have many places to play anymore ... Watched N.C. State's Matt Hill play a few holes at the Canadian Amateur (bogey-free first-round 65). Big, powerful, accurate, nice touch. Looks like he could turn pro five minutes ago and he's just a junior.
A lot of folks are blaming Harrington's 16th hole snowman Sunday on being put on the clock, but I have trouble believing a two-time major winner is going to flinch that much. I think he was feeling the pressure, but not from being timed. How about it was almost an impossible shot from a bad lie behind the 16th green and he hasnít been in contention for about a year after struggling with swing changes? Oh, yeah, and Woods had just hit what might be the shot of the year.
The last year
Has it been 10 years ago already since Garcia did that scissors kick at the PGA at Medinah and looked like he'd be almost as big a star as Woods? Mike Weir shot 80 playing in the last group that day. Who would have thought 10 years later they would have one major between them ... and it would belong to the Canadian?