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Fox and the USGA - Changes Coming Due to Coverage of Rules Event?

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At Chambers Bay Thomas Pagel was tied to a chair in the broadcast booth for the duration. Perhaps Fox News will find a way to do something similar.

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48 minutes ago, turtleback said:

For the ruling to be wrong you have to be able to say what it was that was more likely than the player moving it.  So what was it, in your opinion, the wind?  a bade of grass collapsing?  gravity?

Keep in mind that none of these things caused any other ball to move (or maybe one at most).  This was not a day and a course where environmental factors were causing balls to move around.  We have a player waving his club right near the ball, putting it on the ground right next to the ball before taking those practice swings, (both of which are factors the decision say matter) and the ball moves almost immediately, but it is somehow more likely that some environmental factor, that wasn't moving balls around any other time or place?

Wattels ball moved in similar fashion to DJ's only after a slightly longer time period, what was the acceptable explanation for why it moved?  

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The ball moved so slightly that it would likely be un-noticed by anyone not standing directly over it, which in the time span a ball is sitting on a green is a relatively very short period of time. We have no idea how many balls moved from environmental factors in this tournament or on this day.

1 hour ago, turtleback said:

For the ruling to be wrong you have to be able to say what it was that was more likely than the player moving it.  So what was it, in your opinion, the wind?  a bade of grass collapsing?  gravity?

 

I don't believe that's true. The rule is whether or not the player was the most likely, what single or multiple other causes may have been individually or in summation more likely do not have to be said.

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I think everyone is a bit naïve to think that FOX or any media outlet will not do what it can to build up suspense and get as many viewers to watch their programming.  It doesn't matter if 1% is fact and 99% is opinion.  It is all about getting the ratings and keeping the topic going for days on end.  This entire situation has been a windfall for FOX and they will come out as providing clear and unbiased reporting of the situation.  Cable news is notorious for having 1% news and 99% opinion.

I think the formula is pretty simple... ratings = dollars to FOX = contracts = dollars to USGA.

John

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On 6/20/2016 at 10:43 AM, Elmer said:

At least Buck is aware that people do not like him.

 

I particularly liked it when buckety-buck was interviewing DJ right after the award ceremony, and started to ask him what was going through his mind when the rules officials talked to him on the 12th hole, and the crowd immediately and loudly boo-ed him for asking it.

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39 minutes ago, Divot Master said:

I particularly liked it when buckety-buck was interviewing DJ right after the award ceremony, and started to ask him what was going through his mind when the rules officials talked to him on the 12th hole, and the crowd immediately and loudly boo-ed him for asking it.

I agree that it wasn't a very original or most pertinent question to ask the winner vs. their strategy or how they played so well. But I do wonder how many of those booing were USGA folks?

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5 minutes ago, natureboy said:

I agree that it wasn't a very original or most pertinent question to ask the winner vs. their strategy or how they played so well. But I do wonder how many of those booing were USGA folks?

I think most of the boos were for the USGA, not Buck.  

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21 hours ago, tdiii said:

The ruling was not right.  That's very important.  The ruling was incorrect as it was not more likely than not Dustin's actions that caused the ball to move. 

If one of the 200-some Course Superintendents flown in by the USGA to ensure pristine conditions could have provided measurements and data indicating that due to photosynthesis one of the blades of grass on the green grew enough so that at just the point in time that Dustin was attempting to address his ball that blade grew enough to cause the ball to move then perhaps DJ might have avoided the penalty.

But in the eyes and thinking of the USGA, since Dustin was the last one seen just outside of the bank prior to the holdup and there was no video taken inside, then it must be inferred he was guilty due to his location compared to the location of the crime.

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5 hours ago, Big C said:

Do we have reason to believe that the USGA feels wronged by Fox's coverage of the DJ incident? I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe that's the case. 

We don't, except that it's quite likely or at least possible the USGA is not thrilled with how FOX covered the U.S. Open. They could have done more to support the USGA - by not allowing their announcers to go on and on and on with misguided information about the rules, etc. - and to present a fairer case.

Doing so put the USGA further behind the 8 ball than the actions of Mark Newell, by forming a strongly negative first impression.

5 hours ago, Big C said:

Now of course, that doesn't mean they won't privately scold Fox for airing the players tweets (which I believe did add fuel to the fire). But the USGA made this bed. Even if they got the ruling right, they screwed up royally in how they handled it and they deserve every bit of scorn they have received.

No disagreement there, but while they made the bed, that doesn't mean that they have to have their faces rubbed in it by their broadcast partner. Pardon the mixed metaphors.

FOX could have been "more fair" to the USGA. Both with Azinger/Faxon, the player tweets, and so on… They damaged the USGA's reputation more than the USGA/Newell already had.

5 hours ago, Big C said:

I don't think Faxon and Azinger's ire was based on a misunderstanding of the rule.

It was. They kept talking about addressing the ball and other sorts of things that aren't really all that relevant. It's not a difficult to understand rule.

5 hours ago, Big C said:

Had Jeff Hall come into the broadcast booth and said "We have reviewed the videotape. Based on what we saw, and our analysis of the conditions at the time, we believe that it's more likely than not that Dustin Johnson caused the ball to move. We have assessed him a one stroke penalty and we have advised him of that," the story would be a non issue by now.

It would still be an issue. Less of one, but still an issue. Newell should have gotten things right on the fifth hole, and then there wouldn't have been any delay at all.

But this thread is not about that. It's not about what the USGA could have done better. It's about whether FOX made the USGA look unnecessarily bad, as their partner, and if the USGA won't consider asking for changes to the way things are covered in the future.

5 hours ago, Big C said:

He didn't believe that he caused the ball to move. What in the world was discussing the situation afterward going to accomplish?

Had Dustin been able to give a reasonable, plausible explanation for his ball moving they'd have considered it. They were operating under SOP - to not pause and interrupt a round, but to wait until the player is in the scoring area. They sent an email and will likely revise that policy.

But that's still not the topic here. The topic is not how the USGA screwed up, but how FOX almost piled on and presented things more negatively than they had to, and if the USGA doesn't consider that they'd like things to be presented differently next time.

5 hours ago, Big C said:

So yeah, I suppose it's possible that the USGA has an off the record with Fox. But if anything, I think Fox's reply would be "hey idiots, we took it easy on you!"

I don't think they took it easy on them. They let Azinger and Faxon rattle on unchecked for a long time, forming a very negative first impression. They aired player tweets that were misinformed (many talked about "addressing" the ball).

Etc.

5 hours ago, xcott said:

Fox is paying the USGA, this isn't a partnership. 

Let's not be pedantic about it. I feel like you know what I meant, and when both parties call it a partnership, and both parties stand to gain or lose together, then it's a partnership.

http://www.usga.org/articles/2013/08/usga-and-fox-sports-tee-up-landmark-partnership-21474858717.html

FOX gains nothing by ripping the USGA. They'll lose viewers, they'll lose value, etc. Yes, FOX is paying the USGA, but they work together to promote the best championship - both as a test of golf and as a television event.

2 hours ago, newtogolf said:

Wattels ball moved in similar fashion to DJ's only after a slightly longer time period, what was the acceptable explanation for why it moved?  

It was enough of a time difference that they felt it wasn't caused by him. < 1 second versus about six seconds, they said.

Accept it or not, I'm just saying what they said.

And once again, @newtogolf, this thread is about FOX and the USGA, not the rule itself.

2 hours ago, xcott said:

The ball moved so slightly that it would likely be un-noticed by anyone not standing directly over it, which in the time span a ball is sitting on a green is a relatively very short period of time. We have no idea how many balls moved from environmental factors in this tournament or on this day.

That's nothing but speculation. The facts are that we know of three instances where balls moved, and in each instance, the player immediately identified it as such (even Wattel's that you couldn't see move on HD video). Players are generally good about this sort of thing. So, it's safer to conclude that no balls moved by the actions of players that went uncalled.

And this is also off topic. This isn't the 18-2 or U.S. Open discussion. This is the FOX/USGA discussion.

2 hours ago, xcott said:

The rule is whether or not the player was the most likely, what single or multiple other causes may have been individually or in summation more likely do not have to be said.

The rule is "was the player most likely the cause of the movement, or was it anything (one or many) else?" It's a very simple rule.

57 minutes ago, Divot Master said:

I particularly liked it when buckety-buck was interviewing DJ right after the award ceremony, and started to ask him what was going through his mind when the rules officials talked to him on the 12th hole, and the crowd immediately and loudly boo-ed him for asking it.

That was pretty tacky. How about, particularly since it didn't matter to the final score, you ask him a positive question about achieving a lifelong dream or something?

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23 minutes ago, newtogolf said:

I think most of the boos were for the USGA, not Buck.  

Didn't see it, but that seems more likely than for asking the question.

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I've been searching for any reaction from Johnny Miller to get a sense for what his take might've been. Doesn't look like he has tweeted since 2011: https://twitter.com/johnnymillernbc. It's tough to search, because you get a lot of hits discussing Miller's 63, not his reaction to the controversy. My guess is he is laying low.

I thought his reactin might be relevant, because the aftertaste I have about the coverage was that the ruling was sensationalized by the Fox team. Once they got the ball rolling on how dramatic it all was, I felt they stoked it a bit too much. In the process, I felt like they were not being fair to the actual rules, and were interpreting it the way that would bring maximum outrage. 

I saw an interview with Shane Lowry, and he totally downplayed it as a fairly minor issue in his game. He heard about it on the 12th hole, I believe, and he said he took it in stride, but kept focused on his own game. He certainly gave the impression that it didn't phase him one bit. But from the coverage, you get the feel that the players would be in disarray. They're professionals, so I'd think they could handle the situation quite well.

The current polls on shackleford's site show 84% say that DJ did NOT move the ball: http://www.geoffshackelford.com/homepage/2016/6/19/vote-do-you-feel-dustin-johnson-caused-his-ball-to-move.html

I could be wrong, but it's possible that if a more calm and reasoned approach were taken by the commentators, the public reaction might've been different. And I am (was?) a fan of Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon. Now I'm not so sure about them, and they seem like they missed a chance to educate us, not sensationalize. I understood more about the rule and the ruling well after the show was over.

Total speculation, of course, (feel free to debate!): I think there's a good chance that the NBC crew, from top to bottom, would've been a bit more measured in their analysis, discussing the difficult dilemma for everyone, but short of hyping the scenario. They were a team honed over years of covering the US Open, and Fox still feels like they're flying by the seat of their pants a little bit. For USGA, there might be some regret over making the switch.

As for changes, I don't know- but in the next renegotiate, I can't see how the USGA won't keep this in mind, perhaps valuing the lower-key tone consistently set by NBC over the commercialism conveyed by Fox.

Spoiler

Azinger REALLY let me down when he first said it's all about "short game, baby." He said that to separate yourself you HAVE to do that with your short game- because EVERYBODY plays the tee shot and the approach. So from there is where you score.

Then about an hour or two later, he said "All the best ball strikers have risen to the top of this board." Seemed a tad contradictory.

Maybe I've just been impressed with his easy-going style, more than substance.

 

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17 minutes ago, RandallT said:

Total speculation, of course, (feel free to debate!): I think there's a good chance that the NBC crew, from top to bottom, would've been a bit more measured in their analysis, discussing the difficult dilemma for everyone, but short of hyping the scenario. They were a team honed over years of covering the US Open, and Fox still feels like they're flying by the seat of their pants a little bit. For USGA, there might be some regret over making the switch.

As for changes, I don't know- but in the next renegotiate, I can't see how the USGA won't keep this in mind, perhaps valuing the lower-key tone consistently set by NBC over the commercialism conveyed by Fox.

I agree.

And that's kinda the idea behind the discussion I'd like to have here. I agreed with other things you wrote, too, but didn't just want to quote it all. I think FOX did a disservice to the game (make no mistake: RO Mark Newell screwed the pooch the most) and their broadcast in sensationalizing this or in how they handled it.

And I imagine the USGA wishes FOX had covered it differently. Not by sweeping it entirely under the rug or anything like that, but at least not in reacting as they did.

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19 minutes ago, RandallT said:

I've been searching for any reaction from Johnny Miller to get a sense for what his take might've been. Doesn't look like he has tweeted since 2011: https://twitter.com/johnnymillernbc. It's tough to search, because you get a lot of hits discussing Miller's 63, not his reaction to the controversy. My guess is he is laying low.

I thought his reactin might be relevant, because the aftertaste I have about the coverage was that the ruling was sensationalized by the Fox team. Once they got the ball rolling on how dramatic it all was, I felt they stoked it a bit too much. In the process, I felt like they were not being fair to the actual rules, and were interpreting it the way that would bring maximum outrage. 

I saw an interview with Shane Lowry, and he totally downplayed it as a fairly minor issue in his game. He heard about it on the 12th hole, I believe, and he said he took it in stride, but kept focused on his own game. He certainly gave the impression that it didn't phase him one bit. But from the coverage, you get the feel that the players would be in disarray. They're professionals, so I'd think they could handle the situation quite well.

The current polls on shackleford's site show 84% say that DJ did NOT move the ball: http://www.geoffshackelford.com/homepage/2016/6/19/vote-do-you-feel-dustin-johnson-caused-his-ball-to-move.html

I could be wrong, but it's possible that if a more calm and reasoned approach were taken by the commentators, the public reaction might've been different. And I am (was?) a fan of Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon. Now I'm not so sure about them, and they seem like they missed a chance to educate us, not sensationalize. I understood more about the rule and the ruling well after the show was over.

Total speculation, of course, (feel free to debate!): I think there's a good chance that the NBC crew, from top to bottom, would've been a bit more measured in their analysis, discussing the difficult dilemma for everyone, but short of hyping the scenario. They were a team honed over years of covering the US Open, and Fox still feels like they're flying by the seat of their pants a little bit. For USGA, there might be some regret over making the switch.

As for changes, I don't know- but in the next renegotiate, I can't see how the USGA won't keep this in mind, perhaps valuing the lower-key tone consistently set by NBC over the commercialism conveyed by Fox.

  Reveal hidden contents

 

Good post. Only thing I disagree with who the USGA will select for the next broadcast, I think it'll be the highest bidder. If FOX offers the most money I'd bet their the one selected and a lower bid but slightly friendlier NBC will be forgotten.

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5 minutes ago, iacas said:

I agree.

And that's kinda the idea behind the discussion I'd like to have here. I agreed with other things you wrote, too, but didn't just want to quote it all. I think FOX did a disservice to the game (make no mistake: RO Mark Newell screwed the pooch the most) and their broadcast in sensationalizing this or in how they handled it.

And I imagine the USGA wishes FOX had covered it differently. Not by sweeping it entirely under the rug or anything like that, but at least not in reacting as they did.

IMO Fox not having done many golf broadcasts went outside of what we're typically used to seeing in a golf telecast to keep viewers interested in order to maintain or improve ratings.  

Given it was Fathers Day, DJ was leading by 3 and Lowry wasn't able to catch up the only reason to watch until the end was the USGA ruling on DJ and the trophy ceremony.  I think they gave it more air time than NBC or CBS would have.  I was wondering if the USGA requested the interview after the award ceremony to clarify the ruling or if that was at Fox's request.  

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8 minutes ago, mchepp said:

Good post. Only thing I disagree with who the USGA will select for the next broadcast, I think it'll be the highest bidder. If FOX offers the most money I'd bet their the one selected and a lower bid but slightly friendlier NBC will be forgotten.

Just as NHL players, etc. sometimes take a "hometown discount" (rarely, but it happens… Sidney Crosby, for example), occasionally even the USGA or other large corporations leave a little money on the table if the value or other intangibles make up for it.

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26 minutes ago, iacas said:

 

But that's still not the topic here. The topic is not how the USGA screwed up, but how FOX almost piled on and presented things more negatively than they had to, and if the USGA doesn't consider that they'd like things to be presented differently next time.

I don't think they took it easy on them. They let Azinger and Faxon rattle on unchecked for a long time, forming a very negative first impression. They aired player tweets that were misinformed (many talked about "addressing" the ball)

 

I see your point, but from a practical standpoint, I don't know how you legislate that type of thing. It wasn't like Fox was taking shots at the USGA at every opportunity. In fact, by my recollection, they were quite complimentary of the course, the tourament, and the way things had been handled in light of unexpected weather. This was a one-off situation, and an almost unprecedented one at that.

And what it really boiled down to is a couple of guys - who happened to be employed by Fox at that time - expressing in the moment reactions to that unprecedented situation. Even if you think that Faxon and Azinger were way off base (I don't, although at worst, I might say their anger  was directed at the wrong issue), how do you tell on-air talent to dial it back without coming dangerously close to censorship? 

 

 

 

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Chambers Bay had some unusual situations from a Rules perspective and therefore had the USGA's Thomas Pagel in the broadcast booth all of the time.

I predict another full-time USGA Rules person will be on hand in the future.

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3 hours ago, RandallT said:

I could be wrong, but it's possible that if a more calm and reasoned approach were taken by the commentators, the public reaction might've been different. And I am (was?) a fan of Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon. Now I'm not so sure about them, and they seem like they missed a chance to educate us, not sensationalize. I understood more about the rule and the ruling well after the show was over.

Total speculation, of course, (feel free to debate!): I think there's a good chance that the NBC crew, from top to bottom, would've been a bit more measured in their analysis, discussing the difficult dilemma for everyone, but short of hyping the scenario.

Maybe? I think their were several things combining:

  • the issue of the rule itself which was relatively new for the commentators compared to what they had during their amateur and pro playing days (I would be surprised if most former pros even consult a rulebook when they play after retiring)
  • the delay between the on-site ruling and the later question mark
  • the impression of the impact of the rule itself

I personally think the last one is where the public and some of the commentator emotion was coming from. Though, Jack, usually a moderating voice was focused on the delay.

I suspect many current / former players and a lot of fans just find the penalty wrong. He didn't do anything unusual or out of the ordinary in attempting to putt. He didn't touch the ball. How else is he supposed to putt? Is part of the Major test altering your normal ingrained putting routine or stance in order to limit potential penalties like this that are essentially random and unrelated to skill or sportsmanship?

Edited by natureboy

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