The rules of golf have two distinct reasons for existence. The first is to level the playing field by requiring players to follow a standard set of rules applied equally across the board. The second is to allow playing partners to monitor and correct a breach if required. During a golf tournament, the second reason is called protecting the field. And that is exactly what Joel Dahmen did at the Quicken Loans tournament when he challenged Sung Kang’s interpretation of the rules. Dahmen was protecting the field!
On the 10th hole, Kang’s ball found the hazard. His interpretation of the ball flight was that it flew over the hazard, but drew back into danger at the end of the stroke. If this was the case, the point of entry would be where Kang’s ball entered the hazard on the second time. If it did not clear the hazard, he would have to play the ball from where it entered the hazard the first time. In this case, it would be a significantly larger distance from the green.
Joel Dahmen contended that the ball did not leave the hazard and reenter. He stated that Kang needed to play his ball from the first location that it entered the hazard. A disagreement ensued. At this point, I would assess that the process followed by both players is correct. Dahmen was protecting the field by challenging Kang’s interpretation.
Their disagreement continued for about 25 minutes until the PGA Rules Official arrived on the scene. After talking to the players, caddies and other officials in the area, the PGA Rules Official sided with Kang. Kang received a favourable drop and saved par after applying all penalty strokes. To this point, all parties involved followed the proper process and the official made a ruling. I believe the field was protected. As far as I am concerned, there is no controversy.
Where the controversy reared its ugly head is when Dahmen called Kang a cheat on twitter.
I realize that Dahmen was upset, but the PGA Rules Official made the call and that should have ended of the discussion. Calling Kang names after the fact is not helpful for anyone involved. Personally, I call it the ‘rub of the green’.
What I do like about the situation is that Dahmen did the right thing. He tried to protect the field by not allowing another player to breach the rules to their advantage. Well done, Joel.
I also believe that all professional golfers should show the same tenacity by standing up and challenging other professionals who unintentionally (or intentionally) break the rules.
My last thoughts for today are for all amateurs. It is our responsibility to protect the field in golf tournaments. Allowing someone to take advantage of the rules by giving them a favourable drop or turning a blind eye to rules infractions without saying anything (because it is your friend or a more skilled golfer) destroys the second reason for golf rules. It is important that we protect the field and it starts with us politely challenging a player who breaks the rules.
Have you ever challenged a player because you thought they were breaking the rules?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!