Bogey Play: PGA Threatens to Ban Reporters Who Tweet Results

Apparently, the PGA Tour is still struggling to figure out this whole digital-media thing. According to golf reporters at the tour’s Farmers Insurance Open Thursday, the PGA sent an email threatening to pull credentials from reporters who were sending live result Tweets from the course.

Stephanie Wei, a freelance golf writer who does work for Sports Illustrated Golf+ (and is likely to have an expanded role in the golf media world after some promising video-reporting segments over the past year), shared the PGA’s warning email on her golf blog. Wei, one of the more prolific tweeters in the golf media who regularly follow the tour, did a bunch of shot-by-shot tweets while following Tiger Woods’ round Thursday at Torrey Pines.

In the days of yore, the Tour’s inclination to “prohibit the use of real-time, play-by-play transmission in digital outlets” might have been understandable. But as the Tour itself promotes on-course fan phone use and social media interaction, where does it draw the line between reporters and fans? Will the Tour hunt down and expel fans who are tweeting results they see happening in front of their eyes?

At last year’s U.S. Open, as well as other Tour stops, the supposed rule cited by the Tour was violated by numerous media, with many even posting pictures via Twitter as they followed golfers around the course. As an avid golf fan who can’t always be in front of a TV, the multiple tweets were a great way to stay in touch, and added flavor as a “second screen” option while watching live coverage on TV. If anything the Tour should be trying to get more people to tweet, not less.

Why the Tour is choosing now to enforce its Twitter ban is a mystery, especially when you consider how, on other fronts, the Tour is opening up and expanding its digital media presence, including having more live video available online.

Is the Tour really worried about tweeting reporters stealing fans’ eyeballs from its licensed (and expensive to rights-purchasers) content? Instead of banning it (and potentially pissing off fans who like following different Twitter streams for the commentary and take from the individuals they follow) why doesn’t the Tour do the simple and powerful thing of simply retweeting the reporters’ efforts, thereby increasing the Tour’s reach and publicity — for free? Aren’t you more likely to go turn on the TV if you see some tweets telling you that Tiger or Phil or Rory is on a hot streak?

To me, the Tour’s new enforcement of its no-tweet policy seems like a millionaire griping about losing a quarter in the parking meter. And we know how well those arguments go over, don’t we? Here’s our no-charge advice, PGA: Let the tweets run free.

Your Post-Masters Reads, Bubba Edition

Who’da thunk it? Not Bubba Watson, after pushing his drive into the pines on the second hole of sudden death. But one super-fade for a lefty and two putts later, Bubba Watson is your Masters champ. If you want some good recaps and opinions in words, we offer you these three takes:

One, the play by play. If you follow this blog you know we are big fans of Stephanie Wei, who writes for seemingly every publication out there but most directly for Sports Illustrated and the Wall Street Journal. She also has her own blog, Wei under Par, and her play by play take from Sunday’s final 90 minutes will bring all the thrills back:

Stephanie Wei: Ninety Minutes of Tension

My old friend Christine Brennan of USA Today has been all over the shameful stance the Masters has taken over whether or not it deems women acceptable as members. Her column on Bubba’s pink-hued win is a great deadline take. Take it away, Christine:

Christine Brennan, USA Today: Go-for-broke ways work for Bubba Watson

If you haven’t tuned in to the Augusta-vs.-women controversy, this column from Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal puts it in great perspective. Here’s the money line from his essay about why we all shouldn’t just ignore this topic:

Beyond the fierce protectors, there’s a substantial, soft middle population of patrons and sponsors who may agree that women belong in Augusta, but are too enchanted by the Masters to push. This charming environment of white-painted cabins and $1.50 pimento cheese sandwiches makes it easy to turn down the common sense, and resist rocking the boat. That is how exclusion survives.

It’s long past time for us all to give this topic the same amount of attention we give Masters golf. Read on:

Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal: A Tradition That Needs to Change

And, if you need video highlights Geoff Schackelford has a roundup of all you need.