I consider myself a golfer, albeit not a good one these days, but a golfer nonetheless. It is truly a great game and it takes integrity to rule yourself and discipline to play well. The governing body, the USGA, is a great organization and the rules of the game it has created over time are designed for self governance during a round of golf and they also help to guide golfers through the myriad of difficult situations they might find themselves in throughout a round. Today, however, in the final round of the PGA Championship, the rules didn’t make sense. Carl Petterson, a Swedish professional who played golf at North Carolina State University, lost two strokes on the first hole because he disturbed a loose impediment while hitting out of a hazard. During his backswing, Petterson brushed some grass that brought up a leaf that was laying on the ground. The leaf was the loose impediment and by rule he was charged a two stroke penalty. I am all about accountability and I have charged myself many strokes in my golfing past, but today’s ruling struck me as not right and having nothing to do with accountability and integrity. The leaf meant nothing in the big scheme of the golf course and the tournament and by no means should it have meant anything in the tournament. McIlroy ended up winning buy eight strokes by do we know that was going to be the final score had Petterson not been penalized. At one point in the round, Petterson would have been two strokes back going with more than a few to go. Major pressure can bring about mistakes in the game of the leaders but because of the penalty, no one ever really got close.
This was one time where the rules didn’t help bring about championship competition-they were the impediment.