Monday, September 8, 2008

Even I'll Admit, Some Golf Rules Are Stupid

In case you missed it, Martin Laird and Bart Bryant were in a little bit of a rule fiasco yesterday at the BMW Championship. Because I don't feel like typing it all, here is the situation.

Laird's tee shot on the par 3 landed on the fringe and rolled to 3 feet. Bryant's shot came up just short in the rough, some 50 feet from the flag. As they approached the green, Laird noticed the pitch mark left by his tee shot and went to tamp it down. ``I said, 'Is this in your line?''' Laird said after a long and troublesome day. As the rookie from Scotland punched down the grass with his club, Bryant told him that indeed, it was in his line between the ball and the flag. It did not affect the shot because Bryant's play was to chip well over the mark.

No matter.

Slugger White, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competition, said a decision related to Rule 1-2 does not allow Laird to improve a competitor's line. That ordinarily would be a two-shot penalty — disqualification in this case, because Laird already had signed his card — but he was not penalized because the USGA deemed that he did not intend to help Bryant. Bryant did not get off so easily. He was guilty of Rule 13-2, which covers improve the lie, area of intended swing or stance or line of play. The rules says a player cannot improve the line ``or allow'' it to be improved.

By agreeing that the mark was in his line — a simple ``Yes'' was all it took — Bryant was assessed two shots. That turned a bogey into a triple bogey, turning a 66 into a 68.

This is why golf rules are so ridiculous. The improvement didn't even help out the other player!!! It would be like in baseball, if a player bunted, go thrown out and then as he walked to the dugout the catcher ran over and tagged him a second time just to make sure.

Bryant answered in class that defines who he is, but you can tell he wasn't really excited about it.

Asked if he should have been penalized, he replied, ``Yes, because I broke the rules.''

``I didn't knowingly break the rule,'' he said with a gentle smile. ``I didn't even know that rule.''

Anytime I hear something about the rules of golf affecting someone for no particular reason, I'm taken back to the Rick Reilly article about the golfer that got disqualified for having one of his son's golf clubs in his bag. I actually met Doc Graves, the culprit to this ridiculousness, at a golf tournament in Tucson and rode around with the man for a few holes. When he told me he was the famous official known as a "fool" by most, it appeared to me that some really do live by the mantra "rules are rules."

I guess sometimes that USGA rule book is too thick to see over all the bullshit.


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