Dustin Johnson’s ‘Grounding’ May Not Warrant a Time-Out

Did you see the end of the PGA Tournament today?

Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker that didn’t look like a bunker (that’s a sandtrap, for the uninitiated!)  He was thus assessed a 2 stroke penalty and was knocked from a playoff to third place at Whistling Straits.

Imagine if he’d sunk his final putt for the PGA victory?  He would have lost outright.  In other words, he would have won the tournament for 10 seconds before he was ushered away by officials for the horrid news.  As it was, he missed the 3-hole playoff with two other players.

Still, ouch.

Now, I know there are rules to things.  But if you saw the tournament today, you would see why it probably stung so much.  It didn’t look much like a bunker…even the commentators  thought it was a bum rap.  The ‘sand trap’ simply looked like a trampled area.  It didn’t occur to anyone that this wasted area was anything other than a trampled scrap of ground.

Now, to his credit, Dustin was gracious on his post-apocalyptic interview.  He got his point across without stating it overtly.  Many booed when they heard his 2-stroke fate.  And, when you hear boos in golf, something is probably up!

I don’t know what kind of day you had, but Dustin Johnson’s was pretty crappy.

Ah, rules.  Is rigidity our best friend?  He gained no advantage from the grounding, and it was not an obvious bunker.  Should he have been assessed the penalty?

Are any of us perfect?  Are we always guilty for our negligence?

I don’t know the answer to these things.  I’m not an expert in these areas.  All I know is that when I watched the end of Dustin Johnson’s day, my stomach dropped a little for him…and for anyone who has ever been busted for something they didn’t even know they did.


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