I really don’t understand why people are so up in arms about the penalty incurred by Dustin Johnson on the final hole of yesterday’s PGA Championship. Of course, the overwhelming majority of those complaining are people that don’t play or watch golf regularly, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after all. This is simply a case of people not knowing what they hell they are talking about.
Let me break it down easily…
FACT: It is against the rules of golf to ground your club in a sand trap. This is a rule that ALL golfers are aware of.
FACT: The golfers in the tournament were specifically informed in writing that all bunkers on the course would be treated as bunkers, whether they were in play or not. This referred to exactly the kind of bunker Johnson found himself in – one that spectators had been standing in all weekend. As for why there were bunkers on the course that were not in play and therefore used as spectator areas, if you took one look at the course during the last four days, you will see just how many bunkers there are. Having large crowds walking the course necessitated some of them being taken out of play.
FACT: Stuart Appelby was called for this exact rule in the same type of bunker six years ago, the last time the PGA Championship was played at Whistling Straits. The precedent was set then, so there should be no surprise this time around.
FACT: There was a rules official walking with the golfers in case questions such as this arose. It is NOT the responsibility of the official to stop someone before a rule might be broken. Again, that is standard practice, and 100% of that responsibility falls on the golfer and his caddie. All they had to do was ask the official.
As usual, people are using this as an example of golf being elitist, or having arcane rules, or other silly reasons why they don’t like golf (and yes, I have seen both of those examples written on Twitter). Most of these same people, however, openly state either before or after those comments that they only watch golf for the big Championships. If that is not the most hypocritical coment ever, I’m not sure what can top it.
If you are not a fan of golf, or simply a casual one, then understand the rules and the situation before spouting off that it is unfair. This is a black and white rule. Period. Even Dustin Johnson said he didn’t read the rules sheet carefully. His Sunday partner, and third round leader, Nick Watney went as far as saying that he didn’t even look at the local rule sheet, and that most of the players ignored it, as well. In that case, I have zero sympathy for Johnson. He was told about this rule and chose to ignore it.
As for those who choose to get high and mighty about the ruling, see you in April for the Masters. But take the next eight months to learn about the game you are commenting on. Maybe it will make you sound smarter next time you complain.