LPGA Rules for Disqualification
Lots to Remember
Over the years, we’ve all seen a host of disqualifications from both the men’s and women’s tours, some of them over seemingly nothing when looking at the small picture. In retrospect, there’s so much to be said for rule uniformity, and both tours have remained rabid on adherence, with an accompanying “We’re so very sorry, but…you’re disqualified.” Someone accidentally moves a ball waving at a fly or a bee, someone mistakes a drop zone for a no-drop zone, and on and on and on. The point to be made in this discussion is that there a thousand ways to get thrown out of a tournament.
Whenever a disqualification is relevant to a matter of honesty, we just have to shake our heads. These competitors want to win in the worst way, and some will settle for just that. The blind spot surrounding overt dishonesty grows larger and larger with each passing year of advanced technology. If you want to cheat, it’s you against the world, and its cameras, listening devices, televisions, satellites, rewind and fast forward. You can’t win – give it up. Two Korean golfers of the LPGA were disqualified for hitting the wrong ball, then colluding with their caddies to keep the matter silent. The players didn’t think that it would come out, not to mention having a skewed view of caddie ethics. That body of golf personnel honor the game just as much as the pro players do, and you’re not likely to reach first base in a scandal with almost any of them.
Some decades back, we experienced the Jan Blalock scandal, in which she was accused of inappropriately moving the ball on numerous occasions. Lawsuits followed, and future winnings were put in reserve, awaiting outcome of the proceedings. Blalock won the suit, but was disqualified for a time. Her accusers waited years to bring it forward, but if it she had played in the age of GPS and drones, such a thing would have been spotted immediately.
Not showing up on time didn’t work in college, and it doesn’t work for the LPGA. When three players failed to appear on the tee for a pro-am in recent years, all three were disqualified, even though they caught up with their groups and finished the day. The pro-am isn’t part of the official tournament, and yet, it is for many reasons, both having to do with golf and sponsorship.
Failing to sign a score card happens once in a while, and the result is always a disqualification. On one hand, why be so picky, but on the other, why be so absent-minded? It’s part of your profession’s official procedure. Signing a card incorrectly opens one up to all manner of abuse, bringing in procedural error and the possibility of dishonesty, “the smell that never goes away,” according to one writer. Unfortunately, players can be informed of a penalty after they’ve signed the card, and disqualified – doesn’t seem right, somehow.
One poor newcomer to the tour was disqualified for briefly and inadvertently stepping out of the scoring area by three feet. Apparently, you’ve to maintain a constant sense of where you are. In a Canadian major, according to the website, you can be disqualified for having any metal in your spikes, and the same is probably true everywhere else. I remember the days when that’s all there was. Some men and women are cleared to play with a clown college wardrobe, but on the LPGA, the shoes have got to be right.
Poor Julie Inkster was at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland a few years ago, and had a thirty minute wait on the tenth tee, so she put a weight on her club to stay loose. She didn’t play with it, just put it on during the wait. Boom – disqualified – go home. That one got to me a little, and elicited one of my more serious “Aw c’mons.” Inkster was playing well, in contention, but Michelle Wie had the opposite problem, running into the “88” rule that I had always believed was fictional. The official story was a wrist injury, but a meeting with her staff on the fairway resulted in her simply quitting in mid-round. Apparently, if you shoot 88 or worse on tour, you’re disqualified for the rest of the season, and she didn’t want to risk it.