GolfTube: The Schwartzel ruling, and tough TV decisions

Sizing up the TV coverage from the Memorial ... and away we go.

You can't turn on the television these days without catching a glimpse of a player and a PGA Tour rules official conferring about a rules situation on the course. One of the most respected officials on the tour, John Brendle, has been pretty busy over the last couple of weeks.

Just eight days prior to making a controversial ruling at the HP Byron Nelson, Brendle was back under the microscope at the Memorial, as Charl Schwartzel received a favorable ruling when his ball landed between two sprinkler heads.

After the entire conversation between the two was captured thanks to the Golf Channel's boom-mic, the Golf Channel/CBS crew voiced their displeasure with the ruling.

"Peter, I don't think his practice swing helped him with his case. He only bent about 12 blades of grass," Nick Faldo said.

"Well it's a weird one," Peter Oosterhuis said. "The thing is the ball is above his feet, so he's going to be hitting a bit of a draw. I don't... I'm surprised he's taking a drop. Very surprised. I really don't think he's entitled to this."

"I'm surprised, yeah," Faldo said. "From our angle, a good six inches back, it looked like he had enough room to swing. But if I was his defense lawyer, I would have told to hit at least a half a pound burger out of there. And Jack would have complained. It's all on the players conscience now, so if he's happy..."

The network also went back later in the day, replayed the entire ruling, and then showed rule 25-1 from the Rules of Golf, which discussed a player getting relief for an "abnormal" ground condition that would interfere with a players stance or swing.

Regardless of how you felt about the ruling, the network did a wonderful job covering it from all angles.

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Tough decisions

CBS and the Golf Channel had some interesting programming decisions to make on Sunday. With the Memorial being delayed due to weather in the Dublin area, CBS ended up losing out on the conclusion of the final round, paving the way for the Golf Channel to air the last few holes.

But there was one problem: the network already had live coverage. With the LPGA's Shoprite Classic going on, the network was forced to go back and forth between both tournaments. They ended up getting in the last couple of holes from the LPGA event, while also giving live look-ins at the PGA Tour.

After the LPGA finished, the network moved to the PGA Tour, before catching final round coverage from the Champions Tour in the middle of the broadcast. All things considered, it was a decent juggling job from the golf network.

Winter wonder-about-your-golf-game land

A large majority of the players on the PGA Tour prefer to live in the southern portion of the United States. A lot of that has to do with the mild winters and the chance to play golf year-round, something most golfers need to do if they want to keep their game sharp.

That's why Steve Stricker is a rarity. One of the best golfers in the game today, Strick prefers to spend his time in Wisconsin, where the snow and harsh winters keep him from getting his club out for months at a time.

While some would probably question the decision, it's hard to pick on the guy's home base when you see his record of the last couple of years. And hard as it is to believe, another golf legend did the same thing.

While Nicklaus was still an amateur at the time, he talked during Thursday's broadcast about what it was like to put the clubs away during the winter months, and Stricker's decision to live in Wisconsin.

"Well, I let my game go then," Nicklaus said. "That was kind of a relief. I wanted to do and play other sports, and I think Steve is the same way; he likes to hunt, fish and do other things. He likes to do other things, and I think he doesn't feel the need to play golf in the winter time. With that golf swing, I don't think you need any practice at all. I'm being facetious, but his game really is on cruise mode right now with that swing."

Learn something new every day

Muirfield Village, site of the Memorial, is a course Jack Nicklaus knows almost as well as the back of his hand.

But for a couple of minutes on Sunday afternoon, Nicklaus seemed confused by the hazard lines on his own layout. After hitting into a lateral hazard on the par-5 15th hole, cameras caught Steve Stricker taking a drop to play his third shot.

"Well, there's a little water hazard here, down in the bottom of the valley," David Feherty said. "But the trees to the left, including the big oak tree, that is just outside of the hazard. But Steve caught a good break because his ball was inside of it. It could have been a dangerous chip out, had it not been a lateral hazard."

But based on Feherty's description of where Stricker's ball landed, Nicklaus was still skeptical about the hazard ruling. "Is he in a hazard, or is he unplayable?" Nicklaus asked Feherty.

"He was in the hazard," Feherty said. "There's a big red line up there."

"Clear up there?" Nicklaus said, clearly confused by the whole situation.

The cameras shot to where Stricker's ball was laying in the woods, which left Nicklaus even more confused. "That's a hazard up there?" he said. "Well that's news to me."

Stricker was allowed to drop and made bogey on the hole, but if the entire ruling seemed confusing to Nicklaus, chances are many viewers at home were left scratching their heads as well.

Wishful thinking

With weather rolling through Muirfield Village on Sunday, CBS was forced to air final round coverage from a previous Memorial. The year of choice? 2009, where Tiger Woods notched his 67th victory tour victory.

That was also the last year Woods showed up to play in Jack's tournament. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I'm pretty sure CBS execs were watching the recorded coverage and wishing Tiger Woods, circa 2009, would show up again in the near future.

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