Rub of the Green

By John HawkinsAugust 16, 2010, 8:12 am
2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. –  A pitcher for the Detroit Tigers lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning earlier this year, solely because of an umpire's missed call. Is that an outrage? Absolutely. An injustice? Only in a subjective context – flubbed judgment is an indictment of the process, not the man who made the mistake.

Dustin Johnson lost his spot in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship because he grounded his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole. No less a crying shame, but accountability is the issue here. In a game that claims to police itself, the system failed miserably.

In golf, we boast righteousness and morality one minute, then blame everyone but the guilty party for the sake of convenient rationale the next. Anything other than an emotional verdict tells us Johnson messed up. Upon finding his ball in sand right of the 18th fairway, his first responsibility should have been to clarify his rights as a competitor before striking his next shot.

“It never crossed my mind that I was in a bunker,” Johnson would say. “I just thought I was on a piece of dirt the crowd had trampled down.”

This qualifies as an assumption, and you know what they say about those who assume. Before the tournament began, the PGA of America released a rules sheet explicitly addressing the exact conditions that resulted in Johnson's two-stroke penalty. According to the provision, texture, definition and footprints all were rendered irrelevant. The field staff overseeing the tournament obviously thought long and hard about the sandy areas at Whistling Straits before making its decision, and when a decision was made, it was transmitted in the clearest of terms. There was no ambiguity involved in the process.

Still, sympathists will continue to take issue over the fact that Johnson’s ball came to rest in an area filled with spectators, and that people who come out to watch major championships shouldn’t be allowed to stand in bunkers. No argument there, but a lot of passages in the Rules of Golf don’t seem to make sense, and any local addendum such as this is sure to raise eyebrows. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t posted. That doesn’t mean ignorance serves as a viable excuse.

Frankly, I wish Johnson had been allowed to compete in the playoff. I picked him to win on the Golf Channel’s pregame show and found justice in the notion that he put himself in position to win Sunday after his final-round meltdown at the U.S. Open. I’m guessing more people would have been pulling for him than for Martin Kaymer or Bubba Watson, but rooting interests are a personal matter, unrelated to the regulations designed to uphold the premise of competitive equity.

It sounds unduly harsh only because it is. In a classic head-vs.-heart debate, a procedural action often clashes with the emotional reaction, which does nothing to alter the division between wrong and right. Dustin Johnson broke a rule, and on the 72nd hole of the year’s final major, he paid a very high price, but not because the rule was stupid or poorly conceived. Only because he played so well on the previous 71.

Getty Images

NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

Getty Images

Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

Getty Images

UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity,, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.