Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.
CAMILO VILLEGAS UNKNOWINGLY BREACHED Rule 23-1 during the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and was disqualified the following day for signing an incorrect scorecard. Had Villegas known the rule and called a two-stroke penalty on himself, he would have played another day at the Plantation Course. Actually, had he been aware of the rule he probably wouldn’t have violated it to begin with.
The three-time PGA Tour winner flicked away loose pieces of grass as his golf ball rolled down a slope toward him and his divot on the 15th hole. That’s a no-no.
Rule 23. Loose Impediments. 23-1. Relief reads, in part, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.”
A short while later, Villegas signed for a 72. It should have been a 74. The infraction was tweeted to Golf Channel and the PGA Tour by a TV viewer. After seeing what he did, Villegas accepted the disqualification as gracefully as could be expected.
“While it is obviously a disappointing way to start the season,” he said in a statement, “the rules are the rules, and when something like this happens, it’s important to me that you’re respectful of the game and the people involved.”
The TV viewer faced a backlash as is often the case, noted PGA Tour rules official Jon Brendle. But the The Rules Geek has to ask: Why don’t the players have a better handle on the rules?
Veteran Rocco Mediate said on a scale of 1 to 10, players are about a “5” when it comes to knowing the rules. “And that’s being nice,” he said.
That doesn’t cut it. Don’t cry about TV viewers, players. Read The Rules of Golf. Read a few pages each night and you’ll be through the book in a few weeks. Also, don’t forget to read those local rules sheets.
The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Photo credit: pattoncito, Flickr, Creative Commons license)