What if an NBA fan called in a replay of Lebron James, arguably the best player ever, ‘traveling’ in game seven of the NBA finals. Then the NBA decided those two points didn’t count and the Miami Heat lost. Or what if an MLS fan called in an offside’s goal in one of the biggest games of the year and the MLS took that goal away. What would happen? Every fan of that team or player would be in outrage. This is exactly what is happening in golf. TV viewers are taking away from golfers doing their job.

Over the first month and a half of 2011, there have already been two scorecard infractions that have happened either hours or even a day later when the player has turned in their scorecard from television viewers. Who would even know the telephone number to call the rules official? I certainly don’t.

The first infraction happened at the European Tour event, Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the United Arab Emirates. Padraig Harrington was going about his day by shooting a final score of 65 to pace him for a possible tournament victory.

But on the seventh green, early in the round, Harrington replaced his ball. As he began to move his marker away, one of his fingers brushed the ball causing it to move. This effected Rule 20-3a. While there is no penalty to the movement, he did not replace his ball. The penalty would have been a simple two stoke penalty if he had knew this before he signed his scorecard, but since he already signed it, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Now, what type of TV viewer would first of all see Harrington’s finger touch the ball ever so slightly that it moved three dimples? A whopping three dimples! And also, who is watching the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships live at 3 a.m. in the morning? This man who called in should have been sleeping, and on top of that, for this man to look at Harrington’s finger that closely.

Harrington even said, “If I’d called a referee over it would have been pointless because if he’d asked me where my ball was I’d have said it was there. As far as I was concerned it didn’t move.” Exactly.

Just two weeks later at the PGA Tour opening Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii, Camilo Villegas was disqualified after another television viewer calling in.

Villegas was chipping up the slope on the 15th green when the ball rolled back twice. The second time, Villegas walked over and moved some loose pieces of grass in front of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope.

According to Rule 23-1, “when the ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.” The penalty, again, would have been two shots, if he addressed the infraction right then and there. But since he already had signed his scorecard, he was disqualified, for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Why do viewers feel the urge to call in and have players disqualified? I know that golf is an honest game, and the viewer needs to do it for the integrity of the game, but you don’t see NBA fans calling in about all of the ‘walks’ in the NBA. There are at least five a night in the NBA that even ESPN broadcasters call players out on.

Golf should not be having TV viewers call in. If they want them to keep this integrity of the game, then players need to know the rules well enough for them to call themselves out.

The rules are good, I understand that. A change to one rule, would cloud the others. Fine, it’s the penalties that need to be changed anyways. The European Tour has petitioned for the last three years to get the after-the-fact DQ penalty changed. What the USGA needs to do is to hand the player a two-shot penalty and move on with it. The top players in the world should not be getting disqualified from TV viewers. On the scene, before the scorecard is signed, replays are fine. But after-the-fact, no way.

But don’t see a change anytime soon from the U.S. Golf Association. USGA president Jim Hyler confirmed that the rulebook would be discussed in the April annual meeting, but he did not elaborate on what they would be discussing.

Come on USGA, figure it out.