I once had to dq a winning team for a rules infraction at an amateurgolf.com tournament. It wasn't any fun. But I never looked back or questioned the decision.
The PGA of America won't question the penalty imposed on Dustin Johnson at the PGA Championship. But they should take a hard look at the local rule that allows fans to stand in a bunker while spectating a major event. As rugged and natural looking as Whistling Straits is, there is nothing "natural" about that.
Now on to the ruling itself, and public sentiment.
When, if ever, has a crowd chanted "let him play" at a GOLF tournament? It was almost Tin Cup-esque!
On the PGA Tour's website, there is a reader poll where 11,000 people have already responded. Asked if they agree with the penalty received by Dustin Johnson, 60% of golf fans say No.
When I first saw everything unfold I didn't agree with it either, but when I heard about the local rules handed out to players and posted in the locker room -- the potential for trampled bunkers "in the gallery" was clearly spelled out in the first item on the sheet -- I changed my mind. The PGA of America made the right decision, albeit based on a local rule that they may want to look at changing the next time the PGA comes to Whistling Straits.
Watching all of the reporters surround Dustin Johnson instead of watching the playoff unfolding, I wondered if Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, or Ben Hogan would have ever made the same mistake.
If they were about to, I don't think their caddies would have let them.
Since most of us don't have caddies, but do play in tournaments, lets all take it as a learning experience and start reading the local rules. Tournament Committees put these in place to help players, not so they can call penalties.
My heart goes out to Dustin Johnson. But I don't think we have to worry about him -- there's certainly a long career and potentially one or more majors in his future.