For a guy who rarely gets it wrong in PR terms it’s been a less than stellar couple of weeks for Mike Whan.
The LPGA Commissioner missed a huge opportunity by not finding a way to get Women’s Open champion Sophia Popov in the field for the ANA Inspiration (despite technically being right) then compounded the error with the debacle that was the wall behind the 18th green at Mission Hills.
Outrage isn’t hard to find on social media and in fairness it’s often misplaced, but from the moment the first images of the 18th hole appeared last week there were concerns about the placement of the sponsor hoardings.
While for several years there have been corporate skyboxes creating an effective backstop at the island green, the hoardings without the accompanying marquees could hardly have been a worse or more awkward look.
Going for the island green from an iffy lie late in the final round of one of the most prestigious events in the game should be compelling stuff for player and spectator alike.
But thanks to the presence of the wall, what might have otherwise been a momentous decision for some of the best players in the game became, instead, a choice with a security blanket.
With the danger behind the hole all but guaranteed to be out of play, the ‘momentous decision’ simply becomes one of execution: carry the water at the front of the green and you’re all good.
"Thanks to the presence of the wall, what might have otherwise been a momentous decision for some of the best players in the game became, instead, a choice with a security blanket."
Nobody can say whether the outcome of the tournament would have been different had the course setup team not decided to put the wall in place. But there is no doubt it played a part in the final outcome.
Eventual champion Mirim Lee’s second in regulation got an assist from the wall and the question must be asked whether Brooke Henderson would have taken on the water carry for her second shot in regulation had there not been a backstop behind the green?
There is no question the shot the Canadian eventually decided to hit – a fairway wood from an iffy lie late in the final round of one of the most prestigious events in the game – would have found the water had there been no obstruction.
Gabi Ruffels, too, might be wondering whether Rose Zhang – who bested the Australian by one shot for low amateur honours – would have hit her second across the water had there been clear ground behind the green.
As it happened Lee, Henderson and Zhang were all assisted by the presence of the wall, likely as much in the decision-making process as the actual interference of the barrier itself.
The players put on an enthralling battle over the four days in California despite difficult conditions and minus the crowds and atmosphere normally expected at this event.
Sunday was particularly entertaining with the lead changing hands several times and a three way playoff to eventually decide the title.
But for many, the enduring memory will be of the wall and the role it played in proceedings.
What a shame.