Anytime a rule infraction pops up in golf, there are those who start yelling that the rules are overly complicated and that perhaps the penalties — at least in the professional game — are too harsh.
In just the last week, we’ve seen a penalty cost Rory McIlroy a victory and cost an LPGA player a chance to even cash a check.
Last week in the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, McIlroy suffered one of two big-name penalties. One was by Phil Mickelson, who tried to hit a ball right-handed from under a bush and contacted the ball twice. Can’t do that. And he didn’t argue the call because, well, he’s the one who pointed out that he hit the ball twice.
For McIlroy, it was simply a matter of taking an incorrect drop. The rules on drops seem to cause dizziness in golfers like bright, spinning lights. At the end of his round, McIlroy was approached by a rules officials, and when the penalty was explained, McIlroy took the two-shot penalty. And he eventually lost the tournament by a shot, tying with Mickelson.
Thursday the rules jumped up and bit Marina Alex at the end of her round in the LPGA season opening tournament in the Bahamas. In just her fifth start on the tour, Alex shot a 3-over 76, not great but not awful. And there were no issues during the round. But when she turned in her scorecard, she left the scoring tent without signing the card. That is a violation that results in not a couple of shots, but in disqualification. Alex said she wasn’t more than three or four steps out of the scoring tent, but she understands that’s enough to cause the DQ.
So the rules are there to protect players, but they are also there to protect the field of golfers against a potential violation. Both McIlroy and Alex violated the rules, though hardly in a malicious manner.
And the Rules of Golf continue to rule.