Note to Dustin Johnson and His Caddie: Next Time, Read the Memo
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I have two favorite quotes that have come out of the Dustin Johnson debacle. One is from Johnson himself, and the other from fellow American golfer Nick Watney.
My favorite Johnson line was, "I only look at [the sheet] if I have to. And I didn't see a reason I had to."
He was referring, of course, to the sheet the PGA personally handed to each golfer and also posted throughout the locker room.
The sheet with the local rules on it. The sheet mentioning the little matter about how all bunkers, big and small, inside the ropes and outside the ropes, will be treated as hazards. The sheet that said to be careful to remember this. That is the sheet Dustin and his caddie didn't see any reason they had to read.
The Watney line was just as good. Trying to come to the defense of Johnson, Watney, who led going into the final round by three shots and promptly shot an 81, said, "Honestly, I don't think anyone reads the sheet. We have played in hundreds of tournaments and there is a sheet every week."
Yes, that would be a lot to ask of a golfer, or even his caddie. To read a whole sheet. Come on! That is unfair.
The "sheets," of course, are there for the golfer's benefit. But you'd have to actually read them to get anything out of it. Each golf course has its own local rules. You might want to know what they are, you think?
Especially in a major.
So who is to blame here? I am amazed at the number of people blaming the PGA or Whistling Straits or poor Pete Dye, even. Whistling Straits owner Herb Kohler has even gotten some flack.
What about Johnson? What about his caddie? To me, the buck stops there.
Bobby Brown takes 75 percent of the blame for me, Dustin 25 percent. The rest of the world: a big, fat zero percent.
Don't blame the PGA. They went out of their way to alert the players of this possible situation. Should some of the bunkers have been deemed too far out of play to be hazards? Should the gallery have been kept out of the bunkers? Maybe, but the decision was to treat them as hazards and let the people stomp through them. For right or wrong that was the call, and that is what was communicated to each and every player in the field.
Don't blame Pete Dye. Why? Because that would be ridiculous. Dye had nothing to do with what transpired.
You want to blame Herb Kohler? Blame him if your bathroom faucet breaks down or your shower head, but don't blame him for Dustin Johnson's bone-headedness.
Kohler, by the way, speaking afterward, summed it up well for me.
"It's a bunker," Kohler said. "Whether it's outside the ropes or inside the ropes doesn't make any difference, it's still a bunker. Hard lessons in life I tell you, but it was on the rules sheet.... It's crushing for everyone that watched and feels for Dustin. On the other hand, darn it, it's the rules of golf."
Do blame Dustin Johnson. Something tells me maybe Dustin will indeed read the memo next tournament he enters. Maybe even Nick Watney will too! I understand he was caught up in the moment, but that is no excuse.
Not a lot is asked of these guys when they arrive on site for a golf tournament. Practice, eat, be courteous, golf the best you can. I think they could fit "read the one-page memo" into their schedule.
And do, by all means, blame caddie Bobby Brown. What on earth was he thinking?
Brown needed to slow down and take a deep breath. Brown needed to say to himself, "Gee, this is questionable here. Should I ask the official standing five feet away if this is a bunker?"
Brown needed to be there for Johnson. Obviously Dustin's emotions were all over the place, and thinking clearly, at that point, might have been a lot to ask of him. That is where the caddie comes in.
Take a breath, slow down, realize where you are and what you could possibly be in, and then act accordingly.
Wonder what Ian Woosnam would have done with the caddie afterward?
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