Monahan: PGA TOUR will not make own set of rules
Commissioner cited room for improvement in transparency, coordination between bodies
March 13, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan met the media Wednesday at THE PLAYERS Championship. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday the PGA TOUR will not split from the game’s governing bodies to operate under its own set of rules.
The Rules of Golf have been a hot topic of conversation, with some players questioning a few of the newly simplified rules that went into effect at the start of 2019 and wondering if the TOUR should make its own rules for the game’s best players to follow, leaving the USGA and the R&A to make and implement rules for others.
Monahan was adamant that would not happen.
“We have two fantastic professional governing bodies of the game,” he said during his annual press conference prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship. “We have always played by their rules and we will continue to play by their rules – and we are not going to be playing by our own rules.
“We think that the game is best served with everybody playing by the same rules and the same standards. We think it’s a source of inspiration for the game.”
Monahan said he wasn’t surprised by the rules discussions that have taken place among players and others in the golf community. What was unanticipated, he said, was the lack of communication and transparency between players along with primary organizations.
On Wednesday morning, Monahan met with officials from the R&A, the USGA, the LPGA, the European Tour, the PGA of America and Augusta National for two hours in hopes of addressing these issues.
“We're doing what we should be doing as leaders of this industry, which is talking about, one, where we are in the current state of rules. And again, everybody agrees we’re where we thought where we would be,” Monahan said.
“But more importantly,” he added, “I think what's happened here the last few weeks has just exposed a weakness in our working relationship, which happens when you got a lot of different organizations. So, we're going to tighten that up, and we're going to move forward in a way that is going to be good for the game and certainly is going to get us to the right place over time with these new rules, and I think we're in a really good place right now.”
Some players have pushed back against Rule 10.2b(4), in which caddies are forbidden from lining up their players from behind. Intent is tricky to pin down, as many caddies stand on the line of their player’s shot not to line up the boss but instead to better understand the demands of the shot at hand.
Denny McCarthy was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an alleged violation in the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and both he and his caddie denied any wrongdoing. After a great deal of debate on Twitter and elsewhere, the penalty was rescinded the next day.
“In no way, shape or form did I think what I did yesterday was a penalty,” McCarthy said.
The new drop protocol, Rule 14.3b, which dictates that players take penalty drops from knee height as opposed to shoulder height, also has come under fire, especially after Rickie Fowler was penalized for forgetting and dropping the old way at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
Players have come to one another’s defense, and in some cases publicly called out the new Rules and the governing bodies. Monahan, though, reminded that the changes have been part of a six-year collaboration between the TOUR and the governing bodies.
“We were fully supportive of the new Rules because we were a participant in creating them,” he said. “We had equal share, just alongside the other organizations.”
Rolling out 50 changes at once, he added, meant there were bound to be some things that worked well and others that created debate. The USGA already has revised and clarified Rule 10.2b(4), which also tripped up Haotong Li at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a European Tour event, in January. Li, who also denied wrongdoing, dropped from a T3 to a T12 finish.
“Lost in some of the discussion is all the things that are working really well,” Monahan said, “and the list is long, and I think it's right that we're two and a half months in and there's some rules, some existing rules, that are causing debate and discussion. Again, exactly where we thought we would be.”
Other topics that the Commissioner addressed:
MOVE TO MARCH: Asked if he could see THE PLAYERS still holding down its March date in 2050, Monahan didn’t hesitate.
“The reason that we're in March,” he said, “is because when you look at the global competitive sports calendar, we felt this was a very strong position and an opportunity for more fans to follow and engage the players and the PGA TOUR earlier in the season, which is good for the event and for the TOUR, and it also showcases our players and hopefully is good for the game, creating a bigger championship earlier in the season.”
He cited THE PLAYERS as the start of the Season of Championships, the five biggest events in golf over the next five months, and went out of his way to especially thank the PGA of America, which moved the PGA Championship from August to May (New York’s Bethpage Black is the host course this year).
“We feel like we put the product in the right place to grow,” Monahan said, “and, yes, I do expect that in 2050, which is a long ways off, that we'll be here in March. And I know you're going to ask the follow-up question. We'll be playing THE PLAYERS in March.”
THE PLAYERS AND MAJORS: Any discussion of THE PLAYERS invariably comes around to whether or not it should be defined as a major. In this case, the first question posed to Monahan asked him to define the tournament.
He spoke of its unsurpassed depth of field (50 of the top 50 in the world), the demanding test that is the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, and the exquisite spectating experience.
As for its status as a fifth major?
“I think we all have to recognize that when you look at the major championships, they're competitors and they're also partners,” Monahan said. “And the beauty of our game, some people might say, well, you got a lot of different organizations involved in the game of golf. The beauty of the game is we are all trying to build, do the same thing, build the best possible championships.
“As we compete,” he continued, “I think we're moving the game forward, we're growing, we're improving, and candidly we're watching each other and those championships inspire us and hopefully in some way we inspire them. But in the long run we're hopeful that the game is benefiting.”