|image via GolfWorld|
(via GolfWorld) Christopher Crawford, who we profiled at this year’s U.S. Open, was competing at this week’s Amateur, and on pace to qualify out of stroke play into the 64-man match-play tournament. However, during his second round on Tuesday at Bel-Air Country Club, the 23-year-old Crawford heard his caddie use slope when discussing an upcoming shot. This caught Crawford’s attention; while measuring instruments are allowed in amateur tournaments, the slope-reading component is prohibited. Because Crawford’s caddie — a last-second fill-in, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig, after Crawford’s intended looper got sick — had it on for the entire round, he disqualified himself for “multiple uses of a distance-measuring device with the slope feature activated by his caddie.”
“I didn’t gain an advantage but I know the rules,” he said. “Bobby Jones said you might as well congratulate a man for not robbing a bank in that situation. I knew what the rule was and I didn’t have a choice. I know nobody else would have known. But I knew. I knew what the rules was. It’s just the way it is.”
I mentioned this happening in breakfast balls yesterday, but as I dug more and more into the situation, it became more and more hear-wrenching for me. This kid, who qualified for the U.S. Open last year and has a bright future ahead of him, wasn’t disqualified by a tournament official. Oh no no, he had the honor to disqualify himself after his caddie told him the slope adjustment. Now, before I rant, hats off to this guy. He knew the rules, found out he broke it, and DQ’d himself. That’s something a lot of golfers wouldn’t do, so I have the utmost respect for him.
Now here is where I have a MAJOR problem: the PGA and USGA need to clear up these rules. In many amateur events, you are allowed to use range finders and everything to get correct yardage. Now I know that this is different, but I despise that many tournaments have different rules you have to follow in order to compete. Which is why I would propose to the PGA and Royal and Ancient that it’s time to amend. The easiest and most straightforward would be to split up the rules into two groups: either professional and amateur, or tournament and casual. Casual rules would help many duffers like me really enjoy the game more, and if we decided to to play in a tournament, we know exactly what rules there are. I like this approach better than the professional vs. amateur rules, as it would be much easier to follow.
Overall, I think all the rules committees really need to look into these issues. The game of golf is supposed to be FUN!! We need to be able to market the game to kids and for it to be easy to understand the rules. So splitting the rules between tournament and casual would allow people to have more fun and relax when they play.