Golf Rules – When a Penalty Is Just the Beginning

At a recent European Tour event, Simon Dyson incurred a 2-stroke penalty after the round, and was subsequently disqualified from the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard, when a television viewer brought a rules violation to the attention of tour officials.   You can watch the video here:


That’s bad news, but it doesn’t end there.  The tour has decided to convene a disciplinary panel to determine if Dyson should have a more severe punishment, including the possibility of a suspension.

The Rules Violation

Upon marking his ball on a green at the BMW Masters, he reached forward and tapped his ball on the ground on his putting line.  He is alleged to have been tapping down a spike mark.  Spike mark or not, touching the intended line of your putt is a violation of USGA Rule 16-1(a).  Since this was a European tournament, the R&A’s rules apply and it, too, is Rule 16-1(a).  The penalty for breaking this rule is two strokes.

Dyson had already completed his round and had signed his scorecard for the second round when the tour officials discussed this violation with him.  He said he didn’t recall doing it, said he never intended to break any rule, and would accept his penalty of two-strokes and subsequent disqualification.   The disqualification was for signing an incorrect scorecard since he had not included the two-stroke penalty.

The Euro Tour was so offended by this breach that they have taken the unusual step of ordering up a hearing, the first one in more than two years.  (The last hearing was for a young player who mis-marked his ball several times on a mini-tour event, and who was suspended for three months.)

The Weird Part of This…

Dyson is not new to professional golf, as he is entering his fifteenth season as a pro.  He has won on the Euro Tour six times.  He plays week in and week out.  This is not a guy, it seems, who laughs at rules as a normal course of golfing, or else his results would show many other DQ’s.  It seems odd to us that a player with Dyson’s resume who touched his putting line (for whatever reason and intentional or not) and who was subsequently penalized strokes and DQ’d would need a disciplinary hearing.  Isn’t two strokes and a zero pay-day enough?  Unless there is more to this story that has not yet been said.

To us, this is no more a severe breach of the rules of golf than many other rules violations (example, Tiger Woods causing his ball to move while clearing away leaves).  It does make us wonder, though.  While Dyson has a good history, he isn’t a superstar golfer.  If this was McIlroy, Woods, Poulter or Mickelson who did this, is there anyone who thinks that there would be a hearing?

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