It's been a while since I blogged, so I thought I'd dig through my old columns and put one out there that was published a while ago, but is still relevant (I hold the copyright on these, by the way. So there).
Golf is hard.
Golf is really, really hard.
Think about it. Someone hands you a ball about one inch in diameter, and says, “Here, hit this into that three-inch hole over there—it’s only about 500 yards away. Tell me how many times you hit it, and if it’s over five, you’re not doing it right.”
That in itself would make it a ridiculously difficult game. Now add in all the rules.
There’s no way I could even give you the most brief rundown of the rules on golf in a newspaper column, but one caught my eye this past week that I thought was a bit over the top.
Padraig Harrington, a three-time major championship winner, was disqualified from the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday after he failed to replace a ball that had moved when he picked up his marker during Thursday's first round.
Just so you’re aware—when your ball is on the green, you mark its location with something and pick it up so it’s out of the way of everyone else’s ball. When it’s your turn to play, you put the ball back down and pick up whatever you used to mark the spot with—usually a coin or something similar.
Now, after Harrington had replaced his ball he picked up his marker but his finger brushed the ball. He looked at the markings on the ball to assure himself that it was in the same place he had put it—players generally line up the marks on the ball with their intended putting line, for example, when they replace their ball—and went ahead with his shot.
Before the second round of the tournament began on Friday, however, he was called in to review the incident with tournament officials and received a disqualification from the tournament.
According to Harrington himself, after he was called in to review the close-up of his ball under slow-motion replay, “…the ball moved three dimples forward and moved back a dimple, a dimple and a half.”
So, for any of you who have ever seen a golf ball, picture the ball rotating a distance of one-and-a-half dimples on a green, and tell me that could make a difference in your next shot. (Dimples are those little indents on the ball, by the way)
“I was well aware of the fact that I touched it,” said Harrington. “So I checked that the Titleist logo to align the ball was still in the same position pointing toward the target and was quite comfortable that the ball had not moved…if you touch a ball and it doesn't move and you feel it hasn't moved, it hasn't moved, and you don't need to replace it.”
According to European Tour referee Andy McFee, “the fact that Padraig was totally unaware that this ball has moved doesn't unfortunately help him.”
Harrington gracefully accepted his disqualification, and I, too, accept that rules are rules and they must be followed. But how about a penalty of a stroke or two? In fact that would have been the penalty if he had been told about the mistake before he signed his score card. But because the error was found after the round was finished, Harrington was found to have falsified his score for the round.
Disqualification from a tournament seems a bit much for a one or two dimple nudge, doesn’t it?
I say again—golf is really hard.