Golfing Heroes: Brian Davis

I just witnessed one of the most amazing sequences of events in a long time. On the first playoff hole of the Verizon Heritage, Brian Davis hit his second shot the left side of the 18th green, off the rocks and onto the beach. Jim Furyk then hit the ball over the green, leaving himself with a long putt from just off the green. Furyk putted, but overshot the hole by a significant distance.

Davis then had a choice. He could try to get on the green with his third shot from the beach, or drop where he crossed over and, lying four, chip in. He chose to play it like a bunker. The shot cleared the seawall and went long.

But then Brian Davis called over the PGA Tour official and called a penalty on himself. After much discussion, the upshot was this: on the backswing, he had brushed a loose reed with his club. That’s a violation of rule 13-4c

13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or
c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

Much discussion ensued, but in the end, it was ruled that Davis was correct: He had touched the loose impediment, and therefore had incurred a two stoke penalty.

And he lost the playoff and tournament.

Mind you, no one would ever have known if Davis had not called that penalty on himself. There was no room for the television to note the error. And if the video did show up on YouTube after the tournament, Davis could plausibly argue that he didn’t realize he had touched the reed—it was, after all, an insignificant it of detritus.

Brian Davis would have known, though, and however much he coveted his first PGA Tour victory, honor was the greater cause. So he called the penalty.

Bobby Jones once deflected praise for calling a penalty on himself by saying that “you might as well praise me for not robbing a bank.” Perhaps so. But I do not think that makes it any less admirable.

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11 thoughts on “Golfing Heroes: Brian Davis”

  1. My husband and I witnessed the playoff and the penalty that Davis called on himself.  WOW, what integrity!  I hope that the media covers this.  We need more role models like Brian Davis in the world.  Good job Brian!

  2. This is a P.S. from my last comment.  How would I go about sending Brian Davis a letter/email?  Could you find an email or website where I could leave a comment for him to read?  I’ve done a few searches but to no avail.  Thanks!

  3. Brian the ultimate sports man,shouls not of been penalised because the leaf of grass WAS NOT A LOOSE IMPEDIMENT

  4. I’m not a golfer, nor do I usually watch televised events, but I just happened to flip on the channel and spotted some “hubbub” so I decided to see what was going on.  Wow, I think I witnessed history in the making.  I think this guy will be talked about for many, many years.  A true sportsman.  He IS a winner!

  5. The Wrong Call

    Slugger and the PGA rules officials at the Verizon Heritage made the wrong call.

    The ruling that the reed grass that Slugger removed was a loose impediment is not consistent with ruling 13-4/32 in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf guide. In that ruling the example is a pine needle in a bunker. It was ruled that a pine needle “… is not solidly embedded” and is therefore a loose impediment.

    Anyone who watched the events that unfolded next to the 18th green on Sunday saw Slugger tug on the reed grass several times during the ruling discussion. During the first attempt he determined that it was not live grass, but it was not removed from its position despite several tugs from Slugger. It was not until after much discussion with the officials on the radio that Slugger returned to the pile and after several attempts and significant exerted pressure was he able to extract the twig.

    These circumstance clearly show the impediment was anything but “loose”, but was instead “firmly embedded” as defined in the ruling.

    This is a vivid example of why rulings must be made first hand, by a person or persons who is both knowledgeable and present in the situation. Slugger did the right thing by asking for assistance. The rules gurus, who were more interested in a literal interpretation than they were in an informed ruling of the situation, did not. They needed to actually “see” what was going on, rather than relying upon the relay of events from a third part who is present. If they had been green side, they would have clearly seen this was a “firmly embedded” impediment.

    Horray for Davis. And a big double Bronx cheer for the absent “remote” rules officials that did Davis and the game of golf wrong.

    Tom Wilkes
    Danville, CA

  6. Thank you Golfer Brian Davis for showing interity when other men in other sports do not know the meaning of the word.


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