Player returns a scorecard with a 62… is then disqualified!

Sometimes you simply have to be impressed by the integrity of a player.

That was the case in the recent US Open qualifier, when Tommy Kühl – a fifth-year senior at the University of Illinois – “turned himself in” after he shot a course record 62 qualifying him for the US Open!

After the round, one of Tommy’s teammates mentioned how hard it had been putting on the aerated greens, which made Tommy realize that he had repaired such aeration marks several times… in breach of the Rules!

He contacted a Rule official and told him what had happened. The ruling was that he was disqualified!

1) The Rules of Golf.

Rule 13.1c(2) states, that you are allowed to repair “damage” on the putting green, but the rules clearly states that “damage” does not include “…any damage or conditions that result from:… Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing)“.

So, you are not allowed to repair such aeration holes.

The fact that something is not permitted does not necessarily mean that it is forbidden. In this case, however, Tommy was in breach of Rule 8.1a for improving his line of play by altering the surface of the ground. As a starting point there is a penalty of two strokes for each breach (see Rule 1.3c(4), though, about multiple breaches).

Rule 3.3b(3) states, that, as a starting point, the player is disqualified if he/she returns a scorecard with a score lower than he/she has actually taken on a hole. An exception states, though:

If one or more of the player’s hole scores are lower than the actual scores because they excluded one or more penalty strokes that the player did not know about before returning the scorecard:

  • The player is not disqualified.
  • Instead, if the mistake is found before the close of the competition, the Committee will revise the player’s score for that hole or holes by adding the penalty stroke(s) that should have been included in the score for that hole or holes under the Rules.

So it seems like he should not have been disqualified.

2) “I felt sick to my stomach”.

According to Mondayq. com, Tommy Kühl said this:

I felt sick to my stomach. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t tell the rules official.

I should know better. It comes down to me. I should know that rule.

What honesty and integrity! So no US Open for Tommy this year… instead, he gained a lot of respect and compliments… and a good night’s sleep!

According to The Golf Channel he added:

It’s not the tournament director’s fault, or the people running the tournament, or the course, or the superintendent. It’s all on me. I should know the rules of golf.

3) Local Rule.

The golf club can have a local rule in operation (Model Local Rule (MLR) E4) allowing players relief without penalty when there is interference from such aeration holes… but they cannot have a local rule in place allowing repair of aeration holes.

As far as I know, the Illini Country Club where Tommy Kühl was playing did not have MLR E4 in place.

4) Read more.

You can read more about the incident here and below: