Charlie’s Corner: Heartbreak At PGA Could Benefit DJ

August 23, 2010

charlie.jpgWelcome to Charlie's Corner, the blog home for Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer. A lifelong Myrtle Beach golfer, Rymer, with his characteristic wit and unique perspective, will be weighing in on all things golf for Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday.

As a former player, watching Dustin Johnson finish out at the PGA Championship was gut wrenching.  He clearly had no idea he was in a bunker. 

I understand all the arguments surrounding the incident.  Many people point out that there are too many bunkers on the course and the fact that the gallery was actually inside the bunker.  Others say that the rule is obscure.  They question how it can even be an advantage to ground your club in a bunker. 

Some folks blame Pete Dye and Herb Kohler.  Others blame the PGA and David Price who was the walking official with that group.  Blame is also thrown at Dustin Johnson's caddie. 

Here is how I see it.  The burden of playing within The Rules of Golf falls squarely on the shoulders of the player. The information was there and Johnson admitted to not making note of it.  Special notices concerning the scenario that penalized Johnson were both handed out and posted in areas where players could easily see them.  

The PGA did everything, short of having a mandatory rules meeting, in its power to make players aware that all sand on the course should be treated as a bunker.  The fact of the matter is that this was a perfect storm.  Dustin Johnson was at the helm and as the captain he went down with the ship. Put 100 players in the exact same situation and several would have made the same mistake.      
But all is not lost. In the long run this very tough situation may ultimately be good for Dustin Johnson. 

Let me throw a couple of quotes at you. “What a stupid I am.” “It's no one's fault but mine.”

These quotes make me very proud of my sport and its players. The first is attributed to Roberto De Vicenzo after signing an incorrect scorecard that knocked him out of a playoff in the 1968 Masters. The second is attributed to Dustin Johnson after his final round at the PGA. 

Both men took ownership of their mistakes. Roberto De Vicenzo didn't blame Tommy Aaron for recording a 4 instead of a 3 on the 71st hole. Johnson didn't blame Pete Dye for building a bunker way off the beaten path. De Vicenzo retired a Hall of Famer and winner of the Bob Jones award, the USGA's highest award granted for distinguished sportsmanship in golf. 

There's a lot be said for taking the high road.  It defined Robert De Vicenzo as a champion and a gentleman.  It will do the same for Dustin Johnson.