If anyone doubted the arcane, confusing and prohibitively complicated Rules of Golf were a detriment to the game the Justin Rose penalty fiasco should remove those doubts. Additionally the incident says volumes about the pitfalls of attempting to apply these Rules with the concept that golf needs to be “fair.”
In a brief unscientific mother-in-law survey (that’s a survey when you don’t have the time or the money to do it properly, just ask your mother-in-law ‘cause she’s sure to have an opinion) of golfers at my home club they were incredulous at the handling of this incident when Rose’s ball supposedly moved by roughly a quarter of a dimple.
It either moved or didn’t. Either Rose saw it or didn’t. Either it “rocked” in place or changed position or didn’t.
The collective collapse of sanity shown by Tour officials, including “consulting” with not only the USGA but some guy from the European Tour watching on television in England, is beyond belief.
In the aftermath rulers makers at the R&A and USGA, rather than congratulating themselves on another application of the often obtuse and at times overzealous system of strictures, should concentrate on getting the Rules simplified.
Did the Tour think about what effect putting a two stroke penalty on Rose for an infraction that no one at the time could tell occurred and then rescinding it the next day? How about how they look in the eyes of fans?
I guess not, since that’s what they did.
Want another example? Have you noticed how even professionals are so buffaloed by the Rules and the interpretations they won’t even take a drop from a drain or spectator bleachers without a rules official holding their hand? It’s gotten ridiculous.
Rationalizations concerning increasingly complex Rules and the evermore convoluted application of them do not help the game, the growth of the game nor its value as entertainment. Can you imagine someone who is thinking about giving golf a try, after watching this exhibition of first penalizing Rose then changing to an “Oh, never mind,” jumping up off the couch to run right out to take lessons?
Golf should have Rules as part of the game but not with second or third hand interpretations. The player is the final arbiter and if he is going to cheat so be it. After all isn’t this a gentlemen’s game?
The game of golf, just as life, is not fair and attempts to make it fair are doomed. We seem to have to learn the lesson time and again, you can’t legislate fairness.