Dustin Johnson & The Rules of Golf

Dustin Johnson & The Rules of GolfThe 92nd PGA Championship is now in the books. The event took place at Whistling Straits located on Lake Michigan in Haven, Wisconsin. The field featured some of the best players in the world for the last major of the season.

Highlighted were players like Phil Mickelson who is well on his way to becoming the world’s number one ranked player and Tiger Woods who is fresh off a devastating finish at the WGC-Bridgestone the previous week. Both these players, and many more, were featured throughout the week and into the weekend as the PGA handed over another Wanamaker trophy.

The trophy went to Martin Kaymer, a twenty-five-year-old from Germany. He played some great golf and managed to get himself into a playoff with long-ball hitter Bubba Watson. But when Dustin Johnson came to the 18th tee, he had a one shot lead heading the pack at twelve under par. An arrant tee shot, landing some twenty yards right of the fairway, would later lead to a bogey finish. This would put him into a playoff with Kaymer and Watson.

Whistling Straits, designed by Alive and Pete Dye, features over 1,200 bunkers. Because of this the PGA had made sure all players and rules officials were aware of the rules of golf in regards to bunkers. If you play golf then you know there are a few rules you must follow. One of the most basic things to remember is you are not allowed to ground your club until you hit the golf ball. If you ground your club before in a bunker it is a two shot penalty. Most golfers know this, especially PGA Tour players.

On 18, when Dustin Johnson his hit tee shot way right, he would just be lucky to find the ball, let alone get a good lie. Where he hit spectators and sure enough surrounded the ball, he had a good lie. His ball ended up in a section of the course that has been trampled down by spectators all week long. The ball was sitting up and he had a shot at the green.

Dustin grabbed a club from his bag, took his stance, and grounded his club. The video shows that as soon as he grounded his club he backed off and made notice to a shadow that was affecting his thought process. He carried on and managed to hit the shot up by the green. From there he would fail to get up and down and would be forced into a playoff with the other two competitors.

Before they could even tee off, someone called his attention back to the area in which he had hit his second shot. Dustin was in a bunker. One of the many bunkers on the course, and one that had been walked in all week from onlookers trying to get a good view of the action on the course. Eventually he would suffer a two shot penalty and end up finishing in a tie for fifth place.

All day I have been hearing about this incident. Even yesterday, after they called attention to the rules violation, more attention went to Dustin than did the winner of the championship. Dustin was upset and all of the media attention went to the locker room just trying to get a piece of his story.

What bothers me is he broke a rule. Golf is one of the greatest games on earth and has a rulebook as thick as a phone book. But just the same, he broke a rule. Golf is based on tradition and the rules of golf are held very close to those players who take the game seriously. While I take the game of golf seriously, I break some rules from time to time. But I am not a professional athlete playing on the PGA Tour with a one shot lead going into the final hole of a major championship.

You might remember Dustin having thrown away the US Open at Pebble Beach earlier this year. He went into the final round with a huge lead and managed to just throw it away one shot at a time. Dustin is only twenty-six years old, so perhaps this is just another lesson well learned, but at the end of the day he broke a rule.

Dustin never once argued the violation, it was eventually left up to the rules committee. But you could tell by the way he approached the media he did not agree with the final call. I will give him credit that the area where his ball finished looked more like a waste area than a sand trap. You are allowed to ground your club in a waste area. But playing on a course with over 1,200 bunkers he might have thought to ask if he could ground his club before just assuming he was in a waste area.

I will stand by the rules of golf and by this decision. He broke a rule and had to suffer the consequences. There is no reason to keep talking about his mistake. How about we pay attention to the man that had the lowest score at the end of the week? Martin Kaymer is whom we need to be focused on here. Let’s all give a round of applause to Martin Kaymer, the winner of this year’s PGA Championship.

Did you see the tournament this past weekend? What did you think of the ruling? Was it a fair decision or was Dustin robbed of another shot at a major victory?