Saturday at the Safeway Classic in Porltand, Oregon, Julie Inkster was waiting on the tee. A 30-minute wait. So to stay loose, she took a few practice swings with a club on which she had put a “doughnut”, a weighted training device. A TV viewer called this in and Inkster was disqualified.
Here are the rules: Decision 14-3/10: Question: During a round, may a player make a stroke or a practice swing using a club with a weighted headcover or “doughnut” on it, or use any other device as a training aid or swing aid? Answer: No
Rule 14-3: Penalty for breach of rule 14-3: Disqualification.
There you have it. She made a practice swing in violation of the Decision, hence the Rule, and the penalty is DQ.
Inkster said, “The device had no effect on my game whatsoever.”
1. If so, then why did you use it, and
2. Lots of rules violations might have no effect on one’s game, but they’re still violations.
On the air, commentator Judy Rankin, a former touring professional, said the penalty should have been two strokes. But that’s nowhere in the Rules, Judy. And we don’t make up rules just because something isn’t “fair,” or happens to a player we like, or we don’t like how severe the consequences are.
Then there’s Rule 1-3, which Judy’s comment gets right to, which says, “Players must not agree to exclude the operation of and Rule or to waive any penalty incurred.” An unbelievable comment from someone who used to be in the mix.
Golf World magazine said, in its August 23rd Golf World Monday e-mail edition, that “players who happen to be on TV are arbitrarily being held to an unfair standard.” What standard is that? Obeying the rules? That’s unfair? Did I miss a memo?
In the sport where players are expected to call rules violations on themselves (see Brian Davis at the Verizon Heritage last April) Golf World apparently wants violations to be called only if a rules official sees it.
Golf is played on a 150-acre arena with players scattered all over it. The actionable event in other sports takes place in an area about the size of your back yard and there are officials right there to make the call.
Michelle Redman got it right when said why she told a rules official about Lisa McCloskey’s caddy violating a rule concerning riding in carts during a round. “I was fulfilling my obligation to protect the field.”
That’s exactly the point.
The field has to be protected from players who violate the rules, intentionally or not. Otherwise, the integrity of the sport will plummet. The shocking thing about this incident is that people who should know better believe otherwise.