In the wake of baseball’s steroid scandal, and the suspension of a couple of dozen Florida State players who were scamming a music history exam, it’s refreshing to find in golf a refuge from the cheaters.
The latest golfer to join the Honesty Hall of Fame is Brandt Snedeker. At last week’s Australian Open, Snedeker found himself in the rough on the 14th, and bent over to pick up a leaf. At that moment, the ball moved. Calling over partner Nick OHearn, Snedeker called a penalty on himself and took a double bogey six on the hole. He eventually ended up at nine under—one shot behind winner Craig Parry.
“I was trying to find out if there was any weight on the ball – I didn’t even try to move the leaf and the ball just moved,” Snedeker said.
“It was clear as day, there’s no ifs and or buts about it. I wouldn’t feel right not calling it on myself in a situation like that.
“Everybody has it happen to them once in their lifetime.”
That penalty stroke cost Snedeker nearly $200,000.
Bobby Jones, of course, once famously called a penalty on himself in the 1925 US Open, in spite of the fact that he was the only one who thought that the ball had moved. When asked why—when even tournament officials said there was no infraction—he had done so, Jones replied:
“You might as well praise me for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play this game.”
Lucky for us, that spirit still pervades golf.