I play golf by the rules. (Or at least I try to. Have you ever seen The Rules of Golf?!) I count all my strokes and take all my penalties.
Rules are part of the game’s charm. That it’s self-policing makes it a game that tests one in ways no other sport does.
But this time, golf got stupid. On Saturday, struggling yet still popular prodigy Michelle Wie was eliminated from the LPGA’s State Farm Classic when officials informed her that she failed to sign the previous day’s scorecard in a timely fashion.
The highlighted phrase is key. Seems the 18-year-old had a brain freeze following her second round Friday and walked out of the scorer’s tent without signing her card. Once volunteers in the tent realized her mistake, they chased down Wie, who had walked not far from the tent.
Wie returned and signed the card. No harm, no foul, right?
Nope. Tournament officials didn’t learn of the incident until Saturday. After investigating, it was determined that Wie had walked past a roped-off area surrounding the tent known as the “scoring area.” If she’d been caught before passing the rope, Wie, who was playing well for a change, would still be in the hunt for her first LPGA victory ever.
Instead, Wie, who was trailing the leader by a stroke, is done.
Too bad. Rules are rules, and signing your scorecard is one of the simplest. But some rules are nuts. This is one of them.
It’s nuts because not signing a card isn’t cheating. It’s a mistake – one that happens after the final putt is made. Most of the rules of golf are created to prevent cheating, to provide a uniform means of dealing with the myriad of things that can happen to a golf ball during a round.
Such a simple mistake should be dealt with by penalizing players with additional strokes, not sending them home.
Wie is not the first golfer to be eliminated for not signing a card. But like all the others, she should still be playing.