With that title I'm sure to bring 'em in. I think about 25% of my readers maybe know of a game called golf and less than half of those actually play it.
But, without heaping on the golf terminology too much, something happened this weekend that I believe applies to life in general and it just coincidentally occurred on a golf course.
Well, as "they" say, on with the show.
So, big tournament this weekend. PGA Championship. Worth years and years of recognition and admission to other tournaments. (Golf people, notice how I didn't say exemptions?) Worth lots of money. Worth public and patriotic admiration from your country, wherever that may be. (Germany)
After four days, it came down to the last couple of holes and three players. Two of those players ended their 18th hole at 11 under par. That's pretty good.
If the guy behind them got a par, he would win the tourney. If he got a bogey, well, he'd have to play against those other two over three more holes to see who was the grand pooba of professional golf. Like overtime or extra innings right?
On the 18th hole, the first shot was lousy, off to the right. Second shot recovered well out of a horrible, dirty, sandy area that had been trampled by spectators all weekend. Three more shots and in the hole. Bogey. Crap, he'd have to play against those other two guys.
One would think.
Except that's not what happened.
Turned out the place where he landed his first shot was a bunker. True it was a crappy bunker that had been mistreated over four days and contained no rakes. But it was still considered a bunker.
If you touch the sand with your club in a bunker before your swing... you know, to pick your nose or swat at a gnat or something, you get a two-stroke penalty.
He touched the sand... barely. He didn't know it was a bunker. His caddie didn't know it was a bunker. The announcers didn't know it was a bunker. The thousands of fans surrounding him, unbelievingly standing IN the bunker didn't know it was a bunker.
But the rules official did. And after our player finished the hole, standing on the green, shaking hands with his opponent, thinking for a brief moment his chances were still alive for the big prize, looking forward to duking it out on those extra innings, that's when the official approached him and said there was a problem.
The two-stroke penalty stood.
He got a 7 for that final hole instead of a 5 and was out of the tournament.
There's the spirit of the rule and the letter of the law. Golf always traditionally goes with the letter. That's just how the game is played. Go by the rules, or get gutted, no matter what the creators intended. Most don't think it's right, but most also agree that is how it is.
It's as if we are all in pain, but resigned to live through it collectively.
In this litigious world I think we could all use a sharp does of the spirit of the rules, the common sense of the moment. Congratulations to the winner, a nice gentleman from Germany who I've never heard of before. He played very well and I'm sorry, but I can't remember his name.
But this weekend will be remembered for wrong that was done to Dustin Johnson. It will be something talked about historically in golf for decades to come.
I hope he gets his chance for the big prize again someday. That would help. Even if he lost. It would help.
(P.S. - Sorry this is so long. I haven't written for a while and my fingers are anxious.)
I got that photos off the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and CBS News web sites, but they're literally available all OVER the internet. Poor guy.