Patrick Reed is not the villain of professional golf. In fact, I will go a step further and say Patrick Reed is a steward of the game. He’s exposing new people to golf. These viewers, hoping to see Reed using a foot wedge in action from behind a tree, or slipping a ball from his pocket after hitting a slicer into the thick stuff, were instead, confused and disappointed when they found out the scandal consisted of Reed poking grass and palming his ball.
Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour pro, and current analyst for the Golf Channel was baffled by the ordeal:
"There are a great many rules, or should I say laws ... there are a great many things that are [not] illegal but are nonetheless unacceptable to do."
He goes on to talk about a code amongst players.
"There is an unwritten code that players adhere to around the golf ball which, in most cases, is obviates the necessity to have a rules official.”
Chamblee talks about this unwritten code that players follow on the tour. Which leads me to this question: should a professional sports organization, who hosts weekly tournaments where first place earns over a million dollars, place their faith in unwritten codes that leave players, officials, and fans in a queasy grey area? The short answer is obviously no.
If a player is contesting that their ball is embedded, and is requesting relief, there should be a rule, not an assumption, that the player should have to wait for a rules official to arrive, and the rules official should determine if the ball is embedded. It’s that simple. We don’t trust batters to call balls and strikes in baseball, we don’t trust basketball players to call their own fouls. So why are we leaving professional golfers to regulate themselves?
I understand golf is a game of integrity, but when you’re playing for 1,350,000.00, it’s no longer a game. Do you want to give your competitors the advantage of deciding for themselves if their ball is embedded and thus deserves to be moved? Of course not.
The USGA and PGA said Reed followed procedure by the book. If players and fans don’t like the outcome, then change the book.
Separately, Reed won by 5 strokes, he crushed the field, embedded ball scandal or not.