For several years the televised test has been part of the world of US professional golf. A famous example is that of the penalty imposed on Dustin Johnson on the occasion of the 2010 PGA Championship, held in Whistling Straits.
The Rules Officials noted Johnson’s infraction on the 72nd hole, where the South Carolina player put his club down while playing from a fairway bunker. DJ stated that he actually put the stick down, but that he didn’t realize he was in the bunker, thinking it was a waste area.
He had missed the local rule applied during the tournament, according to which any sandy area of the course was considered an obstacle (in Whistling Straits there are more than 1000 bunkers…). All this resulted in two penalty strokes that prevented Johnson from accessing the playoffs, later won by Martin Kaymer, who defeated Bubba Watson.
The Achilles heel of the televised test in golf has always consisted in the lack of timeliness with which it is applied, sometimes after hours, sometimes even the next day. The PGA Tour has already tried to solve this problem since last year, but this year it has formalized a three-year project that will lead to the birth of the Tour replay center.
In 2025 the headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Florida, will be the location of the “VAR room” occupied on a permanent basis by the Rules Officials who will support their colleagues on the pitch. The starting point of the project was the rules truck that appeared at Torrey Pines, from where Mark Dusbabek and Orlando Pope provided real-time assistance to the Officers on the course during the last two laps of the Farmers Insurance Open won by Max Homa.
During 2023, the truck will be present in 28 tournaments, during which the two “VARs” will immediately have the images of CBS, NBC and PGA Tour Live at their disposal. Personally, I find it a very useful innovation, which will make it possible to minimize and resolve disputes, such as the one that saw Patrick Reed (again) protagonist at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Players, in perspective, will instead have to get used to the phrase: “They are controlling Ponte Vedra”.
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