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Who was to blame for the Johnson fiasco

Who was to blame for the Dustin Johnson fiasco on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer up their opinions.


There are no shortage of suspects in the great Wanamaker Trophy heist of 2010, not the least of which is Whistling Straits patriarch Herb Kohler and his twisted accomplice Pete Dye who created a wonderful 16-hole test tee to green but an utterly unwalkable, and virtually unplayable, periphery.

They have towering dunes on some of Ireland’s greatest courses as well, Ballybunion and Waterville come to mind, they just don’t dot them with ornamental bunkers or host major championships.

Similarly, Dustin Johnson’s caddie, Bobby Brown, can’t escape blame entirely and walking rules official David Price was strangely absent from the proceedings.

Even the PGA of America, the organization that runs “Glory’s Last Shot,” isn’t without sin. In 2004 when the PGA Championship first visited Whistling Straits, officials wrestled with the idea of having all bunkers inside the ropes classified as hazards and those outside the ropes play as waste areas. Although not a perfect fix, it’s one we hope officials revisit when the PGA returns in 2015.

But the ultimate blame rests with Johnson. The 26-year-old admitted he didn’t read the local rule sheet and, at the very least, is guilty of a glaring lack of situational awareness. Just or not, a rule was violated. And in golf that’s all that matters.


Ultimately, the blame is on Dustin Johnson and his caddie, but we get to point fingers in a lot of directions.

This is significantly different if Johnson had said he read the local rule that the PGA cautioned players about, the rule that all gazillion of Pete Dye’s bunkers on the course were considered in play, regardless whether Sally and Timmy Jones were building sand castles in them.

If Johnson had said he read the local rules and still didn’t realize he was in a bunker, it throws this debacle more heavily on the PGA’s shoulders. It’s ridiculous to say every patch of dirt is a bunker outside the ropes there. That’s why we also get to blame the PGA, Dye, founder Herb Kohler and the walking rules official who did not intervene. Walking around Whistling Straits, it’s difficult to know where the dirt ended and the sand began in the wispy fescue grasses.

The fact that the crowd swarmed that patch of hell Johnson fell into radically skewed the perspective of the landscape when he got there. That bunker isn’t all that got trampled. Common sense did. Because I don’t believe that was really a bunker Johnson played from. It looked more like a man-made grandstand.