When the PGA Rules Go Wrong

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.


2 thoughts on “When the PGA Rules Go Wrong

  1. I get having rules but getting penalized in that scenario sounds ridiculous. It blows. I mean literally, a leaf blows. A light breeze could put that type of impediment anywhere it wants. Even in the clubs path at the moment before your back swing.

    I hope all’s well!


    • Golf is a great game because of the need for discipline, both mentally and physically, and also the self regulating aspect of the sport and the integrity needed to call penalties on oneself, but a leaf being a loose impediment is too much. Petterson clearly played the ball as it lay and for him to be penalized for it because he moved a leaf in his backswing is silly. He loses two strokes but who really loses is the maintenance staff because they did such a good job and the crews do an incredible job every week creating wonderful playing conditions for these guys and yet they didn’t move this leaf? Come on! It is not on them nor should this be an issue. The rule needs to be site and condition specific. Hope all is well with you as well!

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