Golf is the greatest game in the world. Yeah… I said it… greatest game in the world. The game has stood the test of time because the one thing it still holds on to is its ideals. Whether it’s 100 years ago or today, integrity is the St. Peter of golf. He is their to guard the gates of all that is precious to the game. It’s still the only game where we expect players to call penalties on themselves. And the funny thing is, they do. In the era of “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying”, golfers still hold onto honesty and integrity.
That’s why it’s so important not to defend what Phil Mickelson did yesterday.
If you missed it, on the 13th hole, Mickelson was putting downhill. His putt started rolling downhill past the hole and would’ve ended up off the green. That’s when the bizarre happened. Phil galloped across the green and hit the ball back uphill while it was still rolling. It looked like the guy who thinks golf is an activity to drink and do crazy things before picking up his ball and going to the next hole. As if his actions weren’t enough of an egregious act, which resulted in a 2 shot penalty, it was is reaction that was a first class felony to the game of golf.
With as much smug to cover NYC and its surrounding areas, Mickelson bellowed
“I know the rules,” Mickelson said. “I’ve had multiple times where I’ve wanted to do that, I just finally did.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, he doubled down on his indefensible actions with this gem.
“If you’re taking it that way, that’s not on me … If somebody is offended by that, I apologize to them, but toughen up, because this is not meant that way. It’s simply that I just wanted to get on to the next hole and didn’t see that happening at the time. I’ll gladly take my two strokes and move on.”
If Mickelson knows the rules as well as he so boldly said, what about the one that would’ve allowed the USGA to disqualify him. Rule 1.2a clearly states the following:
- It will declare that players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course.
- It will unequivocally state the Committee’s authority to disqualify a player for any serious misconduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.
- In place of the unclear concept of “breach of etiquette”, it will use the more direct and stronger phrases “misconduct” and “serious misconduct.”
Over the years, everything has changed from golf course layouts to equipment but integrity is the one thing that hasn’t. And, for people like myself, who covets what golf teaches on and off the course, I can only hope it never changes. It’s why we shouldn’t give Mickelson a mulligan for his actions yesterday. There was only one action for Mickelson to take after his buffoonish behavior, he should’ve “toughened up” and called a penalty on himself.