Doc's Morning Line: Only golf can have so many ridiculous rules

In this 2002 file photo, a view from the elevated tee at Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook.
In this 2002 file photo, a view from the elevated tee at Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook.

I love golf, but its rules are ridiculous. Not many golfers know the rules, fewer follow them. That’s because golfers generally WANT TO HAVE FUN playing golf. Golf’s rules make the NCAA rulebook look like My Weekly Reader. Here’s what happened to a University of Cincinnati golfer Wednesday, in something called the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship:

“Prior to this morning’s resumption of the quarterfinal match between Evan Beck/Dan Walters and Ty Gingerich/Cole Harris, it was brought to our attention that Gingerich had used a non-conforming putter grip in violation of Part 2, 3c of the Equipment Rules,” read a USGA statement. “The violation resulted in a disqualification.” Rules state that grips must be at least 1½ inches apart. The two grips on Gingerich’s 39.5-inch putter were less than an inch apart.

I don’t even know what that means. (1) Who uses a putter with two grips? and (A) Why must the grips be at least 1.5 inches apart? Is there some sort of blatant advantage to spacing the grips closer together? Do you go from 27-handicapper to Steve Stricker?

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Lastly, who was the passive-aggressive nerd who decided to report this heinous breach of ridiculous rules? Somebody stone that chap with a bucket of Top-Flite X-Outs.

I like that golfers try to play by the rules. At least the pros do. The rest of us don’t consider a foot-wedge to be cheating. We see it as business as usual. What do you mean I can’t take that 6-footer?

On Sept. 18, 1968, Arnold Palmer And Jack Nicklaus are pictured during the PGA Team Championship played at both Twin Hills Golf and Country Club in Forest Park and Quail Creek Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City. Golfers Bobby Nichols and George Archer won first place.
On Sept. 18, 1968, Arnold Palmer And Jack Nicklaus are pictured during the PGA Team Championship played at both Twin Hills Golf and Country Club in Forest Park and Quail Creek Golf and Country Club in Oklahoma City. Golfers Bobby Nichols and George Archer won first place.

Jack Nicklaus once complained when pros playing a muddy track were allowed to wipe off their golf balls on a fairway. “Lift, clean and cheat’’ the Eternal One called it. He’d never make it in our group.

In every other sport, rules exist to be skirted. “Getting an edge’’ means finding a better way to cheat. Baseball’s cheaters are legendary. Gaylord Perry slimed the baseball. He’s in the HOF. Football O-linemen cheat every play, to protect their QBs. Does the NBA even have a rule against traveling anymore?

In golf, players actually report their own violations. Not only do they know the rules, they follow them. Remarkable.

So why overkill it?

Ever watch an event where a Rules Guy gets called in? The ball is in some ridiculous, precarious, untenable spot. In Hackdom, a foot wedge would be the only logical response. On Tour, some guy wearing a repp tie and a blue blazer with a crest on the lapel, in 90-degree heat, comes over and stares at the offending pellet like it just shot a puppy.

The player treats the ball like it’s radioactive, until Rules Guy says, “you can move it six centimeters in any direction, just not closer to the hole.’’ The player’s caddie fishes a centimeter-measurer from the golf bag, the player measures six centimeters and moves his radioactive golf ball the permissible distance. Heaven help the bloke if he moves it 6.5 centimeters.

There are rules against that, possibly inhumane.

I hope the UC kid recovers from this devastation. I hope he can still putt after moving his two grips further apart. Say a prayer or something.

Meantime, it’s OK to admire golf’s regs, while also ignoring them at will.

Now, then . . .

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Boy, Nick Saban sure is mad about the way some schools are using NIL to stockpile talent. Saban is the control freak’s control freak in a game of control freaks. And he still can’t do anything about Texas A&M lavishing its recruits with tall piles of cash.  

Alabama coach Nick Saban
Alabama coach Nick Saban

Saban said coaches know how much money is available from their school's collective -- a group of program supporters who pool their resources to offer deals to athletes -- and "how much he can promise every player."

"That's not what it was supposed to be," he said. "That's what it's become. And that's the problem in college athletics right now. Now every player is saying, 'Well, what am I going to get?

"I mean, we were second in recruiting last year," Saban told the audience. "A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team -- made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn't buy one player, all right? But I don't know if we're gonna be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it. It's tough."

(Nick Saban, complaining about being at a competitive disadvantage. Declaring it “tough.’’ Hilarious.)

Well, OK. How much of this is genuine concern for the game, and how much is self-serving whining?

I’m guessing what the answer will be. Someone is going to be having lots of meetings with lots of rich boosters/alums, telling them to open their wallets wider. You can’t survive in the wild, wild west without a fully loaded six-shooter.

If ‘Bama has $3 million in its “collective’’, what does UC have?

I requested an interview with Luck Fickell to discuss. He wasn’t interested.


Twenty percent of starts have gone exactly five innings this year, the largest share of five-inning starts in history. The average start length is way down, of course: 37% of starts have gone fewer than five innings. It’s all down, every imaginable category. Just 2.3% of starts have gone longer than seven innings.

The NY Mets are paying Max Scherzer $130 million for this season and the next two. That seems incredibly foolish when presented with the facts. Even for Scherzer, arguably the best pitcher of his generation.

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How many really good 2- and 3-inning guys could you buy for that kinda cash?

The Rays seem to know this. They fill their pitching staff with no-names who produce for relatively small pay. They have no qualms about letting go of big-name guys like Blake Snell. Name three Rays pitchers, win fabulous prizes chosen just for you.


ESPN examined the investments of 40 principal owners and found that they collectively have more than $10 billion tied up in China -- including one owner whose company has a joint venture with an entity sanctioned by the U.S. government.

In addition to the money their teams derive from the NBA's $5 billion business in China, many have significant personal stakes there through their other businesses.

 NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, "We continue to believe that exporting media rights of NBA games to fans in more than 200 countries and territories around the world, including China, is consistent with our mission to inspire and connect people everywhere through the power of basketball."


AND NOW . . .

Hey Michelle! is touring the town this weekend.

Musical Brunch ~Cincinnati Magazine is putting on the monthly brunch this Sunday at the beautiful Cincinnati Club. Each month is a different theme and this one is Latin featuring Joel Alleguez! Grab your tickets and hit that Bloody Mary Bar. 

Rockin the Roebling ~ Starts tonight the band 500 Miles to Memphis will be jammin on the lawn by the side of Moerlein Lager House.They have a great walk up window to grab drinks and a new outdoor seating area that will perfect to chill and listen to some tunes on Thursday nights. 

Florence Ya’lls ~ Game Friday night against the Ottawa Titans and the Ya’lls are in town through the 22nd. Check out these games. It's such a great time and who doesn’t like to yell Ya’ll?!

Cincinnati International Wine Festival ~ It’s back after two years off and we are ready! Hosting 100 wineries from around the world sipping and giving back to a bunch of Cincy charities. If you love wine you can’t miss this. There are a lot of great additional events so check out the website. Ticketed event at Duke Energy. 

Imbiber Dave loves him some low places.

Racking up quite the streak of solid imbibing weeks. We’ve had Garth Brooks on the concert bucket list for quite some time, and after a few failed attempts, things came together on Saturday night.

TUNE O’ THE DAY . . . I’m thinking maybe I’ve seen my last concert. At least as far as big acts go. Prices are out of control. I like Jackson Browne. I don’t like him for $200. OG recalls seeing Led Zeppelin in 1975, for $7.50. It was the same year I saw Charlie Daniels, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker for $4.50, I swear to Gregg Allman. Ronnie Van Zandt was so drunk on Jack, he couldn’t sing Free Bird. The band did it acoustically and it was very nice.

So . . .  your favorite live band? Brooooce is up there for me. So are these guys.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: PGA Championship: Rules of golf ridiculous, equipment violation