Dick Move, Edition One: Augusta National vs. Tianlang Guan

Tianlang-GuanRules are rules and without them, there is anarchy.  I get that.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the rules can be bent, allowing for a little leniency.  Last weekend at Augusta was one of those times.

For those of you not in tune with the tradition unlike any other, a 14-year-old kid from China named Tianlang Guan made his Masters debut.  He was the youngest person to ever qualify, and more impressively make the cut, in golf’s most prestigious event.  He dropped a cool 73 and 75 his opening rounds on the world’s most grueling course.

Guan actually would have scored a 74 on Friday, and not the 75 he turned in on his scorecard, had he not been penalized a stroke for slow play.

Again, one of golf’s silly, little rules.

The slow play rule is in place for a reason.  Anyone who has ever played golf with a lumbering foursome one group ahead understands exactly why.  Rules governing pace of play were established to ensure rounds are completed in time, particularly on tour.  However, if I told you that the powers-that-be at Augusta penalized an eighth grader for taking a little too long to hit his golf ball, you’d probably look at me in amazement.  A stroke, mind you, that almost cost him the cut, which is a far stricter penalty than having to write one’s name on the blackboard 100 times after school.

Here’s what some of the pundits said about the penalty.

Paul Azinger, ESPN.com TV analyst: I saw players take a minute and a half deciding what to hit into No. 16 today. And for him to get a time for going over 50 seconds twice, to get a penalty, is a joke, especially in today’s conditions. The official who gave him the penalty should have been a little more discerning in that. Very, very, very unfair.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Guan was warned several times to speed up his play. The rules are the rules. This is the big leagues. On Friday, he should have learned a very important lesson about competing at the elite level. Golf shots are just one aspect of this business.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: A tough call. Not when there’s never been a stroke penalty given in Masters history, and not when the entire round was played in extreme conditions and groups were taking more than five hours.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: You needed a sun dial to time the pace of play during Friday’s rounds for lots of groups. Maybe Guan violated the letter of the law, but I’m not sure he violated the spirit of it. The penalty seemed, under the circumstances, unnecessary and borderline heartless.

Fred Ridley MastersI get that this is the Masters, golf’s biggest of all stages, but why single out Guan when no one else was penalized for similar indiscretions?  To teach the kid a lesson?  Guan’s unflappable success was one of the tournament’s best stories.  The penalty made Augusta look petty, particularly considering he was the first player ever penalized for slow play.

Here was what Masters Competition Committee Chairman Fred Ridley said with regards to the penalty:

“Guan was assessed a one-shot penalty for violation of Rule 6-7 of the Rules of Golf and the Tournament’s Pace of Play Policy.  His group, which included Ben Crenshaw and Matteo Manassero, was deemed out of position on No. 10. Guan began being timed on Hole 12 and received his first warning on Hole 13 after his second shot. In keeping with the applicable rules, he was penalized following his 2nd shot on the 17th hole when he again exceeded the 40 second time limit by a considerable margin.”

Herr Ridley must be a real hoot at dinner parties.  Just call if you’re going to be late.

So what’s the moral of the story here?  What are we to learn from all this?  Golf is a game of rules and etiquette.  They’re strict some times.  That’s what turns so many people off to the game.

Here’s hoping Guan heads back home with positive memories of his experience in Augusta and not wondering why some stuffy, old, white guys decided to dock him a stroke for standing over his golf ball a few seconds too long.

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23 Replies to “Dick Move, Edition One: Augusta National vs. Tianlang Guan”

  1. Pingback: Dick Move, Edition One: Augusta National vs. Tianlang Guan - BallHyped Blog Network, Golf | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Look there’s chickenshit and then there’s infinitesimal chickenshit of which this belongs, those judges were pounding their puds when they were 14, and dinging him was nothing short of sour grapes. They even showed photos later that pretty much cleared Woods for that nonsense, I’m not the biggest fan in the world of Tiger, but if there’s one guy who doesn’t have to cheat it’s him. OK, I’m convinced he’s another juice fraud, hitting the winstrol out of his flask, but dropping a ball incorrectly? Not even close. It seems the zebras in football, baseball, basket, ball, hockey and now golf think the fans show up to see them decide the outcome of timeless classics…I think not…

  3. I’d like to use the word “mulligan” while I’m at it on my second comment, thematically it works better than using the Brent Mussbergerism…

  4. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve, count ’em, THREE comments from the Duck but I’ll take it.

    You’re right about the refs, dude. Like good caddies and barbacks, they should be barely seen and heard. I don’t want to know your name. Just restock my liquor and ice wells, tell me the lie and then shut the hell up.

    Officials, make the call. The right one. And sports leagues, ensure these gentlemen have the proper tools to do so.

    But golf, Duck, takes it to a whole new level. And Augusta even farther than that.

    I’d like to know if there was anyone in a green jacket suggesting a penalty was the wrong move that Friday afternoon.

  5. We’ll teach those damned ChiComs… This ain’t made in China! This is All-American bull shit!

  6. Chris

    Rules are rules , but in golf but the PGA and R&A are one of the few bodies in sports that allows its competitors to take certain medications to ” allegedly” battle the yips ( Vijay Singh , Bernhard Langer to name but few who use various medications { normally wouldn’t be used in other sports } ) and other maladies . WTF !

    Mickelson takes a steroid based medication to b battle arthritis ( suffers with that ailment as well as psoriasis) for which he is gainfully endorsed to publicize that pharmaceutical product . But we’re talking penalty strokes ? What’s up with that ?

    Golf is sport that is made up with nonsensical rules for which the bodies themselves are not in touch with reality , in spite of the altruism exhibited .

    Penalty here, is that golf remains a sport that is filled with oddities and no real answers to a number of underlying issues that now affects other sports .

    How long is it since the sport came out of the “dark ages ” of segregation and how much much is the PGA doing to make that sport all inclusive as it relates to minorities here in the US ? Or shall we leave that as a subject for another day ?

    I see Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam has placed thirteen employees of his company on paid administrative leave , as the company Pilot J (truck stop and transportation ) remains under investigation by the FBI and Justice Dept ? Further evidence in actual documentation links Haslam to the scheme that defrauded company clients out of tens of millions of dollars across the country . Sh#t seems to be both rolling up and downhill in this case doesn’t it ?

    NFL spokesman Greg Aiello , says the league is keeping a watchful eye on the latest developments . Meanwhile , that dumb @ss Roger Goodell is gearing up for the three days of idiocy we know as the NFL Draft as geeks get the chance to let off steam with their own form of premature eja#ulation .

    The NFL keeping a watchful eye on anything , is akin to asking the federal government to give you their latest estimates on the direction of the US economy . They’re all ###king clueless .

    Angels in the outfield , a stud and an aging dud in the “secondary” for the Bucs this upcoming season for the franchise . Ronde has yet to re-sign with the club , so what gives ?

    Tophatal …………….

  7. Chris

    Scott Fujita one of the four former Saints’ players implicated in the Bounty-gate scandal is now suffering from the early onsets of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease ) . Some might think that to be “poetic justice” as they say …….. “Karma is a bit#h ” and has a way of catching up with those who seek to inflict unwanted harm unto others .

    Now having retired , Fujita can now look back on his career up to a point and look at where he might have went wrong while looking at some of the highlights of some of his accomplishments .

    Tophatal …………..

  8. I met Paul Azinger down at River Wilderness in Parrish (he live there at the time) while fishing. He seemed to be a decent fellow. My opinion hasn’t changed. The guys on the other side of the debate seem a little hypocritical to me.

  9. …nice ramble Tophatal…

    you did make one salient point and that is that Augusta only grudgingly left the dark ages a few weeks ago.

    They once again distinguish themselves ignominiously. Petty old southern white boys acting disgraceful. Again.

    I heard that they recently even let… a woman …on their course recently…

    I missed the weather report on if hell froze over that afternoon or not.

  10. Million dollar question: What the fuck difference did that one stroke make? Let’s face it, this “controversy” is helping to make this kid’s career

  11. Al…

    You wouldn’t be suggesting a hypocrisy within the PGA’s self-governing body to promote its own well-being are you?


    Hmmm, let’s see. When has that happened before. Oh, that’s right. Baseball in the late 90s. We all know what happened then.

  12. Al…

    Are you really blaming Fujita as the fall guy for Bounty Gate, as if he was the only NFLer ever to intend, or allegedly intend, to harm others?

    I’m not buying it.

  13. Aer…

    Yeah, man. Can you imagine hanging out with Evans and Ridley? Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

    Look, I get why they fined him. I also get why they didn’t necessarily have to.

  14. I think you summed it well Chris

    “Here’s hoping Guan heads back home with positive memories of his experience in Augusta and not wondering why some stuffy, old, white guys decided to dock him a stroke for standing over his golf ball a few seconds too long.’

    Weren’t these born-again elitists instructing Ricky Fowler to turn his hat around last year?

  15. Thanks, Bets.

    Let us not forget the more progressive of the tennis crowd, Agassi and the Williams sisters come to mind, who struggled to break the all white clothed tradition at Wimbledon.

  16. Al…

    Of course I know what ALS is. I just don’t know what you feel Fujita did over his career to deserve contracting the disease. Seems a little extreme to me.

    Why is Begay on the Golf Channel doing play-by-play and no longer playing the game? Doesn’t he have it in him anymore?

    Be over to check out your latest and yes, my thoughts on the Kobe Tweets are up.

  17. The Guan penalty reminds me of a similar situation that occurred when I was playing on a mini tour. Because I was the new guy on tour and playing with some of the top guns, an official singled me out for slow play, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth. Point is it happens and you have to have a thick skin playing this game where people who lack objectivity are enforcing rules.

    And as we all learned from this past Masters, Augusta National is one golfing body that prefers subjectivity in making rulings.

  18. Sometimes when you learn things the hard way, you never forget them. He wasn’t going to win the tournament… he still made the cut and he was the high amateur in this year’s Masters… a record for age. The kid can obviously play and now he has a better understanding of how strict the rulings can be.

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