Patterico's Pontifications


What Golf Is About

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 7:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I grew up playing golf. The way I learned it, the game of golf is about doing your best and playing by the rules:

“[Brian] Davis’s approach shot on the first hole of the playoff bounced off the green and nestled in among some weeds. (You can see the gunk he was hitting out of in that shot above.) When Davis tried to punch the ball up onto the green, his club may have grazed a stray weed on his backswing.

So what’s the big deal? This: hitting any material around your ball during your backswing constitutes a violation of the rule against moving loose impediments, and is an immediate two-stroke penalty. And in a playoff, that means, in effect, game over.

Okay, you can think that’s a silly penalty or whatever, but that’s not the point of this story. The point is that Davis actually called the violation on himself.
But the bigger deal is this — the guy gave away a chance at winning his first-ever PGA Tour event because he knew that in golf, honesty is more important than victory. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but here’s hoping he gets accolades — and, perhaps, some sponsorship deals — that more than make up for the victory he surrendered.”

Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.



  1. Golf in West Texas is special, isn’t it DRJ? I think that part of the country breeds hearty people in general, but to play golf despite the sandstorms and heat, you definitely have to have a passion for doing your best despite adverse circumstances.

    Comment by Beldar (c77603) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:04 pm

  2. Playing in West Texas wind, dirt and heat requires a sense of humor and a good windcheater shot.

    Comment by DRJ (09fa6c) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:13 pm

  3. Honor, honesty, sportsmanship, integrity…..

    America needs a lot more of these character traits, too bad our politicians give us the exact opposite; and, don’t even get me started on the absolute vermin in the Media — scum.

    Comment by J. Raymond Wright (e8d0ca) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:15 pm

  4. Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.

    So true. It’s a game for gentlepersons not trailer trash.

    Comment by PatriotRider (483886) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:16 pm

  5. Good on Davis.

    Years ago, I played on the high school team, but my brother learned a much more casual game playing with friends as an adult. Startled him to play with me and learn the penalties as I counted them against myself.

    Comment by EW1(SG) (edc268) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:23 pm

  6. Glad to see it, and glad this just got posted not long ago. I had assumed the lack of comments was the lack of interest in honesty.
    Perhaps that will still prove to be true, we’ll have to see.
    I don’t agree that golf is about being honest, but that competing publicly is about being honest in that competition.
    You mentioned Tiger Woods, but what comes to mind is steroid doused baseball players and performance enhanced Olympic athletes.
    It appears, perhaps due to some degree to the sensational nature of news, reporting, and Tv channels nowadays, that cheating is rampant.
    So yes, it’s nice to know that not every public sports figure is a dirty, rotten, louse.
    I never was a Tiger Woods fan, and I credit myself for that. I guess I spotted the stink all over that baby face a long time ago.
    I’m not a fan of his pathetic apology, either.
    I would much prefer one of these plastic public faces that, once caught, said something like: “You were all stupid enough to believe the lies I presented you, and the media in the know was corrupt enough to keep my secret, as were my liasons, and you all should know I’m going to do it all again as soon as possible, so screw off.”
    Sadly, instead we have this pathetic repetition in various flavors of initials denials, then some form of sickening Jimmy Swaggart antics that somehow are supposed to appease… I guess the cowardly, slimey, elitist trash that frolicks about the world covering the dirtbags, and of course the crybaby feminized Oprah crowd who need not only the initial lies, the expose’ and the pathetic apology, but the false closure, too.

    Comment by SiliconDoc (c27150) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:28 pm

  7. Good on Mr. Davis. That is exactly why golf is such a great sport. He is a stand-up fellow, and karma will catch up with him someday.

    However, I disagree about the Tiger aspect. Sure, he was a lout, a d*ck of the highest order, but that has nothing to do with golf, and everything to do with his role as a husband, father, and man. He never cheated at golf, at least that I am aware of.

    Comment by JD (8763bd) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:36 pm

  8. Real golfers don’t cheat at golf or in life, JD.

    Comment by DRJ (09fa6c) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:40 pm

  9. Silicon Doc – I wish I were as smart as you. Do you have a newletter to which I can subscribe?

    Comment by daleyrocks (1feed5) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:40 pm

  10. I believe that golf is the only professional sport where the player records his scores himself

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 4/18/2010 @ 8:41 pm

  11. Every time I try to explain to non golfers or hackers how a player must be DQ’d for rule violations like signing an incorrect score card, they just don’t get it. Even guys who played college baseball, hockey, etc can’t grasp that Golf Is A Game Of Honor.

    Comment by PC14 (82e46c) — 4/18/2010 @ 10:03 pm

  12. > Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.

    The only hole in that theory is all the politicians who play golf.

    Comment by IgotBupkis (79d71d) — 4/18/2010 @ 11:40 pm

  13. The recent Augusta tournament was beautiful in many ways, but golf is only about honor if you’re playing with honorable people. For many reasons, this is the same for every sport, but the connotation hasn’t carried because it’s just not as realistic beyond golf.

    Never do business with a man who lies to his own wife. And I’ll do business with people I’d rather not golf with.

    But Tiger isn’t a golfer, he’s a brand. Anyone who still finds that brand compelling (And many consider it more compelling now than before the scandal) is a jackass. So it’s a strong brand.

    Comment by Dustin (b54cdc) — 4/18/2010 @ 11:55 pm

  14. Gotta go with JD on this one. That “brand” is still the greatest golfer that ever lived. I’m sure there are those that look at Phil Mickelson’s latest win at Augusta and say “Look at that nice guy with the perfect wife & children; he’s such a good guy, he deserved to win.”

    The guy that deserves to win is the guy that played the best that week.

    I guess I just don’t get this notion of romanticizing sports figures to the point where they must be flawless, lest they fall from grace off of the pedestal — the one they were placed upon by their adoring fans.

    BTW, it’s hardly a secret that Mickelson has a gambling habit, so feel free to take the blinders off. Pro athletes are human beings, with many of the same human weaknesses and frailities shared by many of us. They are good at their chosen profession, just as we strive to be good at our professions — whether we chose them or “fell into” doing them.

    Comment by Icy Texan (468117) — 4/19/2010 @ 3:41 am

  15. I grew up playin REAL sports, baseball, basketball, football, tennis…
    Umm OK, but Tennis was pretty big in the late 70′s, especially if you were lefthanded and imitated John McEnroes pouty court manner and serve…
    In short I was taught “If your not cheatin, your not tryin!” “Its only cheatin if you get caught” and “if you punch the safety in the back and the referee doesn’t see, it won’t make any noise, cause he won’t throw a flag…”
    Tennis was the best…
    We get to make our own Line Calls???????????


    Comment by Frank Drackman (550e6d) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:21 am

  16. Fortunately the sport is bigger than any one individual and Woods’ very public personal failings serve to make the greats of the past seem all the more greater. Woods the ‘brand’ is what he conmpromised. As long as Woods isn’t damaging the game of golf, his conduct off the links is more a matter of damage control to his business endorsements and the media that covers the game than to the sport itself. They’ll play no matter what the size of the purse and have done so since before he was born. If the game itself senses damage, golf will deal with him in its own mystical way– as it has shown it can at The Masters. The most peculiar comment he made was comparing his struggle to return to that of Ben Hogan. No comparison. But that’s Woods for ‘ya.

    Comment by DCSCA (9d1bb3) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:25 am

  17. Golf is great to play, it sucks to watch (ooh, someone swings, cut to shot of ball in air, watch ball land…repeat… repeat).

    Not to take away from what Davis did, but if he had any thought of not saying something, it must have been tempered by knowing that tens of thousands of golf nerds were watching the telecast, one of which was sure to have seen the infraction and called it in. Better for Davis to call the penalty on himself than get disqualified three days later.

    How someone behaves on the golf course has no bearing on how that person conducts himself in real life. Sometime there’s a connection, Clinton cheated on both the course and in life, but that always isn’t the rule.

    Comment by steve sturm (369bc6) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:44 am

  18. Great post DRJ. You are right. Thanks.

    Comment by BT (74cbec) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:59 am

  19. There are a lot of people wondering if Tiger has used steroids to build that physique. David Duval went on a body building program back when Tiger stated beating them all and screwed his back up so bad it almost ended his career and ruined it. A lot of people think he missed one vital ingredient. Duval has almost been forgotten but he was terrific until that event. Fortunately, he has come back a bit.

    Sailing is a bit like golf, the difference being that it is mostly a team sport. Still, you are out of sight of competitors at times, especially in long races. One local competitor in southern California was turned in by his crew for running his engine at night when the wind died. He was banned for life.

    Another rich man who started sailing to win and not to compete was caught having his paid skipper fill the bilge with water right before the boat was measured to make it tippier as the water sloshed around. He was caught (Maybe turned in by his skipper) and banned. His wife is Marge Schott, another sports figure and previous owner of the Cincinnati Reds. I think she was forced to sell the team by the league, if I remember right.

    That was after he had died. What a pair !

    Comment by Mike K (2cf494) — 4/19/2010 @ 5:51 am

  20. I know it’s bit nit-picky, but the author of the Yahoo article should know better or at least write more clearly. The offending sentence should have read:

    “This: hitting any material around your ball during your backswing constitutes a violation of the rule against moving loose impediments in a hazard, and is an immediate two-stroke penalty.”

    You can move any loose impediment when NOT in a hazard (Woods once took the definition of a loose impediment to the limit when he and a couple of fans rolled what must have been a 200 lb bolder that was directly in front of his next shot)… provided that the ball does not move (anybody seeing the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance should remember this). This applies not just removing loose impediments with your hand, but with your golf club or your backswing.

    Comment by JFH (d6afd3) — 4/19/2010 @ 7:24 am

  21. Anyone note that if the golfer who violated the rules had been Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, they’d have cheated, and as a previous poster noted, people who cheat at golf cheat at life.

    PS. Obama has played more rounds of golf in 16 months than George Bush played in 8 years.

    Comment by PCD (1d8b6d) — 4/19/2010 @ 7:52 am

  22. Anyone who still finds that brand compelling (And many consider it more compelling now than before the scandal) is a jackass.

    You are a really swell guy too. Anyone that does not share your views is a jackass?

    Comment by JD (8763bd) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:09 am

  23. which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.

    More like they’re crying crocodile tears for themselves, DRJ. All of the pro golfers and their willing syncophants in the sports media world knew from the very beginning that Tiger was a skank – hound, and basically jumped on anything that moved within a two foot radius of his grasp. He was everyone’s meal ticket, and no one was willing to jeopardize that money train until the inevitable happened. Anybody who can say they’re so disappointed with a straight face should be immediately nominated to the Academy awards for Best Actor next year.

    Comment by Dmac (21311c) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:42 am

  24. I should add that they’re only disappointed in that he was stupid enough to get caught.

    Comment by Dmac (21311c) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:43 am

  25. I was taught many years ago that if a man will cheat on his wife, he’ll cheat you. No exceptions. Professional Golf isn’t about honor, it’s all about the money. Some golfers may act honorably, and that’s a good thing. However, Tiger Woods isn’t honorable in ANY facet of his life. However, he is surely a fat cash cow, isn’t he? Woods is a moral degenerate, will never have any personal honor. I wonder just how much his father knew about this before he died? Some brand, right?

    Comment by killerwhale52 (e5bf93) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:49 am

  26. His father most likely would have approved – he made mention many times of his longstanding belief that marriage was an aberrant custom, and since he was divorced and his son literally worshipped the man, Tiger probably took those words to heart.

    Comment by Dmac (21311c) — 4/19/2010 @ 9:08 am

  27. “Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.”

    Isn’t all sports about personal integrity? If you’re disappointed in Tiger Woods, you haven’t really opened your eyes.

    Comment by Debatable (4ff715) — 4/19/2010 @ 9:28 am

  28. Michelle Wie should be sentenced to play a few rounds with Mr. Davis. She might learn what honesty in the game of golf means. Instead, she’s been a spoiled brat for so many of her young years, she doesn’t think the rules apply to her. Way to go, Mr. Davis!

    Comment by jwcoopusa (3f0d02) — 4/19/2010 @ 9:43 am

  29. Golf. “God’s game”, because He can play it. I was taught, young, that one of the reasons some executives played golf was to evaluate the people they were playing with before signing contracts with them. Some players you can shake hands on a multi-million dollar contract, others you decide not to go into business with at all.

    Comment by htom (412a17) — 4/19/2010 @ 11:18 am

  30. I don’t know about roids, but Tiger is well known to have augmented his vision well beyond what is naturally possible in a human. That’s a major advantage in his sport, and part of the debate over what kinds of enhancements should be banned and what kinds shouldn’t be.

    I was surprised to learn about Tiger’s exploits because I don’t keep up with pop culture… but I don’t think it was all that well known.

    “If you’re disappointed in Tiger Woods, you haven’t really opened your eyes.”

    Where there indications he had some kind of morality problem before this?

    Isn’t all sports about personal integrity?”

    Well, to some extent yes, but lots of sports these days dramaticize the zeal to win and break rules. Causing fouls in basketball, chems in baseball, etc. There’s a philosophy that how you break the rules and lie is just another more complex element of the game.

    I recall when Jimmie Johnson got caught cheating for the umpeenth time some really noisy announcer shouted ‘if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying’ to the nods of 3 other announcers and 1 competitor.

    That’s just an unfortunate attitude that is compatible with winning and thus lionized by the weak minded.

    Comment by Dustin (b54cdc) — 4/19/2010 @ 12:04 pm

  31. Dustin, the prevailing rule in motorsports is:
    “It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught”.
    Until that point, it’s just “creative rule interpretation”;
    or, as Tom Wolfe noted, “pushing the envelope”.

    Comment by AD - RtR/OS! (2f7dee) — 4/19/2010 @ 12:24 pm

  32. but I don’t think it was all that well known.

    His extramarital affairs were one of the worst – kept secrets among the professional golfing community. But no one wanted to “out” him, due to the resultant damage to their livelihoods.

    Comment by Dmac (21311c) — 4/19/2010 @ 12:37 pm

  33. “Dustin, the prevailing rule in motorsports is:
    “It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught”.
    Until that point, it’s just “creative rule interpretation”;
    or, as Tom Wolfe noted, “pushing the envelope”.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! ”

    And I’m not trying to bash any motorsports fans. I’m reacting to the specific point that golf is like other contests… it’s not. Cheating and lying and tricking is culturally more acceptable in other contests than in golf.

    Frankly, golf on TV is asinine anyway. It’s a game to be played, not watched. Motorsport is the opposite.

    Comment by Dustin (b54cdc) — 4/19/2010 @ 1:12 pm

  34. I am not a golfer, but I have known about the self scoring/penalizing.

    In the Bible, don’t remember exactly where in the OT, it lists as a marker of true integrity one who will stick by his promise (here to keep the rules) even if it puts himself at a disadvantage.

    I assume the rules are intended to be taken literally (to a “fault” even) and without any place for interpretation. On the surface, I would find it hard to believe that the inadvertant “maybe brushing of a weed on the backswing” would have any possible beneficial effect on the stroke, and if anything a detrimental effect as his concentration was broken by seeing the weed wiggle and thinking, “Oh no!!” even as he finished the swing. But if the rules are taken literally whether or not the player gained a benefit I guess he had to call it. (Yes, I assume the instant one introduced the “if it affected the shot” qualifier that would cause all kinds of other trouble.)

    As far as other sports go, I remember being a bit surprised at an answer Joe Paterno gave to the theoretical situation, “While a player from the opposing team is running down the sideline toward a touchdown, one of your players sticks out his foot and trips him up, and the officials don’t see it. What do you do?” Paterno answered he would do nothing. He said he would never coach someone to do that, but the refs calling the game is part of the game, those are the rules both teams agree to play by, and everyone knows some bad calls will be made, but hopefully they will “even out in the end”. I see his point, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it.

    Fencing is a sport where honor and sportsmanship is taken quite seriously, but I’m not sure it would be expected for someone to over-rule a referees’ interpretation of the action and decline a touch, or ask it be awarded to the opponent. I believe I have seen it done, but rarely. You do sign a score sheet where it is expected you will point out if there has been a mistake either for or against yourself.

    On the other hand, be it in fencing or any other sport where there are officials, to claim that an official missed a call, even if it was on yourself, does question the officiating and the integrity of the competition itself. Of course the use of instant replay in football is used with the desire to minimize mistakes, recognizing that today’s technology can at times provide an advantage over the human eye, and does not (necessarily) impune the officiating.

    Comment by MD in Philly (59a3ad) — 4/19/2010 @ 1:55 pm

  35. “Where there indications he had some kind of morality problem before this?”

    This wasn’t the issue. The point about “integrity” in golf was that it was supposed to extend to the player’s private life. While I think Tiger was never cheated in the game, his golf game has NOTHING to do with his private life. Everyone is human. We are ALL prone to human failings. To suggest Tiger is immune from this based on his golf game is a ridiculous concept.

    BTW, who knows if he actually did cheat in golf. Maybe he should submit to a drug test and polygraph test to ensure he didn’t game the system.

    Comment by Debatable (ea4bfa) — 4/19/2010 @ 3:26 pm

  36. Debatable,

    It’s clearly not the issue for you. Really, I’m not surprised some people don’t understand the problem or the reason some people actually hold people accountable for being garbage.

    Oh, and no, normal folks aren’t prone to this kind of failure. Don’t shift the goalposts of decency to Tiger’s sewer level. I don’t pee on my 300 girlfriends to get my jollies while my wife knits a sweater at home. I’m not exactly holding myself up as Mr Awesome to say that I don’t.

    Comment by Dustin (b54cdc) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:43 pm

  37. Someone is getting all sorts of judgey again. People can have a different view than you, Dustin,,, and not be a jackass.

    Comment by JD (03a313) — 4/19/2010 @ 4:55 pm

  38. Golf is about playing the game but it’s also about personal integrity, which is why so many golfers are disappointed in Tiger Woods.

    I would venture to guess that people who value their personal integrity would play golf or undertake any activity in their life with honesty. It’s not a selective sport – think Orel Herscheiser, Peyton Manning, etc. Perhaps golf is singled out and players seem more disappointed because it’s an individual sport that doesn’t have the advantage of a team to somewhat act as a buffer between the disgraced athlete and the public.

    Comment by Dana (1e5ad4) — 4/19/2010 @ 5:42 pm

  39. Dustin: I can agree with JD. You’re a jerk. Let’s say MOST normal folks don’t succumb to THIS type of failure. But sports celebrities with tons of money do!!! And you see this ALL THE TIME!!!

    Comment by Debatable (3219fe) — 4/19/2010 @ 6:54 pm

  40. Debatable:

    While I think Tiger was never cheated in the game, his golf game has NOTHING to do with his private life.

    Heh. The funniest part about this statement is that you mean it.

    Comment by DRJ (09fa6c) — 4/19/2010 @ 7:07 pm

  41. DRJ: Huh?

    Okay, I’m willing to entertain the concept that golf players are delusional.

    Comment by Debatable (3219fe) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:11 pm

  42. Great story. I will remember this when I get to the green this summer and am doing the counting … OK, drive off to the right, chip back to the fairway, a dub fifty feet, another chip

    Hell, just give me an 8 and let’s move on.

    Comment by carlitos (85c1d9) — 4/19/2010 @ 8:42 pm

  43. JD’s comment was edited down to the following, due to the profanity and general nastiness contained therein …


    Comment by JD (9f2abc) — 4/20/2010 @ 9:53 pm

  44. Someone is getting all sorts of judgey again. People can have a different view than you, Dustin,,, and not be a jackass.

    Comment by JD — 4/19/2010 @ 4:55 pm

    I’m a jackass for that? What did I say that was even a minority viewpoint? I wasn’t even rude about it.

    Ironic much?

    I don’t hold myself up to be better than you, but I honestly can’t help but draw a conclusion about Tiger that he’s just plain beyond acceptable.

    I don’t really care about celeb gossip, but he’s peeing on girls and sleeping with hundreds of them, and I guess I could do on, but anyone who needs it is lost. It’s more an act of honesty than an act of judgment. Mentally normal adults are unable to avoid drawing a conclusion that Tiger crossed the line quite a bit more than even typical celebs.

    Why are you even here, though? You didn’t want to discuss Tiger Woods or golf… you wanted to call me a jackass? Condemn me for being judgey (apparently something that I do all the time that bothers you)? You didn’t articulate any kind of reasoning. You have two posts here and one just asserts that you feel like being ugly… like everyone needs to know that announcement.

    It’s lame enough that I’m discussing Tiger Woods or pointing out the banal fact that he’s a terrible man. You come in here and don’t even discuss anything. It takes a lot less to get your enmity that it does to get my judgment. I’m not angry about Woods. I go most of my life not thinking about any celebs. I was just being on topic and this is the conclusion I’ve drawn.

    And I wasn’t a jerk to Debatable. He said a very extreme statement that makes no sense to me, and I pointed out his assertion, that to him, this lifestyle is not the issue because we are only supposed to talk about what he does in a limited area… is not a fact… it’s his opinion. I didn’t say he’s horrible or call him names, I said I found there to be more issues. This is different to me than to him.

    He’s calling me a jerk and you’re calling me a jackass, … for that? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just articulate some kind of thought about why I am wrong? And then we could just disagree and go about our lives generally not worried about it?

    Bash me for being too wordy, like the sane folks.

    Debatable: I saw South Park episode too, I know the charge is that any man in Tiger’s position acts like a ‘sex addict’ and this is normal and how I would act in his shoes. That’s just not reality. Most men living Tiger’s life would not be tempted to urinate on hundreds of women and otherwise make some kind of strange demonstration of their alpha status.

    Comment by Dustin (b54cdc) — 4/20/2010 @ 10:34 pm

  45. girls usually love to hear celebrity gossips, they are always into it .*`

    Comment by Bath Screens (e9c877) — 11/24/2010 @ 10:47 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3857 secs.