I'm at one of my annual buddies trips at the Baywood Golf and Country Club Pro-Am in Arcata, Calif. My team is suffering from a run of mediocre swings and embarrassing results, but in spite of our frustrations, we're enjoying pleasant weather, plenty of belly laughs and (knock wood) no rules officials have been an intimate part of the outcome.
More on my trip later, but I've had a few people ask me what I thought of the PGA Championship and the Dustin Johnson ruling.
So I say everyone is to blame, but there's an order to the degree of responsibility:
First, the PGA made a mistake by not declaring bunkers outside the ropes waste areas. You can't allow the gallery to march around in bunkers and then play them the same way the bunkers inside the ropes are played. Horrible call by someone who gets paid to make good calls.
Second, a caddie is not paid to just carry clubs or read putts. This was an opportunity for a good caddie to have read the rule sheet and in the heat of the moment, to ask a few obvious questions, such as: Is* this sand-based lie, on the 72nd hole of a major, a bunker? *Another horrible call by someone who gets paid to make good calls.
Third, Johnson handled it well, in part because based on the local rules and the rule sheet that was passed out in the locker room, he knew he was wrong; but he further punctuated the reputation that he's not just long off the tee, he's short on smarts. Even if we agree it's not obvious that he's in a bunker (it's looks obvious to me in the replay), Johnson had to know he was hitting off a sand-based lie. And, at the very least, it should've occurred to him it might be a bunker. A horrible call by someone who gets paid regardless.
Johnson is still going to the Ryder Cup and he has 435,000 more reasons why he'll get over it. Bobby Brown, Johnson's caddie, still has his job. And the PGA of America is happy--it's Tuesday after a "generic" winner and the golf world is still talking about the PGA Championship.
On the subject of generic, I'm shifting my focus back to my golf game, the Baywood Pro-Am and the rule sheet.
(Photograph by Getty Images.)