Golf tends to glorify those who honor its rules, as if rules were actually made to be broken, and frowns on athletes who intentionally take liberties with the regulations set by other sports. Conversely, golf treats its cheats like pariahs. There is no middle ground – you’re either a man of exceptional moral character or an absolute felon. This judgmental, archaic mentality warrants further examination.What was Davis to do, act like his club didn’t hit the scrub in the hazard left of Harbour Town’s 18th green Sunday evening? When you’re playing for $5.5 million, you do the right thing, which Davis immediately did, at which point the Englishman’s application for sainthood had already been processed.
Golf loves to pat itself on the back when these types of unfortunate things occur. You hear things like, “it’s the only game that polices itself” or “you don’t see offensive tackles calling holding penalties on themselves in the NFL,” which is both ludicrous and a tad arrogant.
I expect my PGA Tour pros to behave like perfect gentlemen, through good times and bad, in sickness and in health. It’s why I’ve grown weary of Tiger Woods’ negative histrionics and have joined the legions of those who insist that the Dude in the Red Shirt clean up his act. At the end of the day, integrity and good manners are essential to the game’s well-being.