Last year’s U.S. Open brought to light some major errors in the USGA ruling along with questioning the way golf is run at the highest level.
There were numerous moments throughout the tournament where everyone at home AND the pros were screaming “WTF”. The controversies and slip ups made by the USGA were inexcusable.
The Course Conditions
From the get go the professionals were not happy with the course conditions. Throughout the practice rounds the pros made it their mission to show everyone exactly how hard Oakmont truly is. The rough that swallows up your ball, the bunkers that are so deep a caddie broke his ankle falling into one, the par 3 that should be a par 4 and the fastest greens imaginable.
Sure these guys are professionals and they should be tested to their limits when it comes to a major championship, but where does the line get crossed? Possibly when a ball moves without being touched because of the slick greens and yet the golfer gets penalized for it. More on that later.
The Weather Delays
No one can control the weather. No one is blaming the USGA for that and we understand that they need to get as many holes played as they can but the way they went about the whole thing was wacky.
The first delay lasted an hour and the pros had to go back out on to the course without being able to warm up. That messed up the flow for many of the golfers and definitely affected the way they played after that, including Rory McIlroy. Then the second horn was blown, and seeing some radar of the future weather they should have stopped play there. But no, they went back out again and it wasn’t too soon after that the third horn was blown.
When you hear the horn stop play again … pic.twitter.com/njuBq5shta
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 16, 2016
These are people, not just pawns for the USGA to do with as they please. Stop and go golf is not fun for anyone and when you are competing for a major it is even more frustrating.
The Rule Breaking
Here comes the biggie. Golf is all about honesty and integrity. The players know it and we know it, so why does one of the biggest organizations in golf not know it.
Dustin Johnson took some practice swings on the 5th green when he grounded his club to set up his putt. DJ noticed that when he lifted his club the ball moved so he called over an official to see if he needed to put it back where it was (this is a fraction of an inch we’re talking about). The official made his decision and play continued, until the USGA announced they had to review the footage and ended up giving him a penalty at the end of the round causing him to lose a stroke over nothing.
The USGA even has a ruling about this that they themselves broke:
— Secret Tour Pro (@secrettourpro) June 20, 2016
This shows that after the initial referee did not penalize DJ that should have been the end of it. Final. Caput. Done. But no, they had to overshadow Dustin’s amazing finish with a penalty that should never have been made.
Many of the pro’s backed up Dustin Johnson right away and it just made the fans want him to win that much harder.
When DJ wins this, the USGA should get on their knees and thank him for saving the Open that they tried so hard to ruin.
— Tony Johnstone (@TonyJohnstone56) June 19, 2016
The Ruling Explanation
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 20, 2016
These guys tried so hard to explain how they came to their decision and it just doesn’t make sense. We all know rules are important but you can’t pick and choose when you want to follow them.
YOU CAN SEE IN THE VIDEO HE DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH THE BALL. He hovered over it and the ball moved backwards. In no other sport would an athlete call over an official for something like that but Dustin did because that’s what golfers do. But if they didn’t call a penalty then they shouldn’t have called one later.
It just doesn’t seem fair and they are SO lucky DJ won by enough so the penalty didn’t matter.
Take that @usga
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 19, 2016
DJ took the high road to take that penalty. This ordeal cannot be overlooked because of a multiple shot victory
— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) June 20, 2016
The President of the USGA
The whole ending ceremony was a bit awkward. The President of the USGA seemed to be slurring her words up on the podium, making many believe she had a few too many cocktails (probably stressing out about the drama). Shane Lowry definitely didn’t want to be there after basically giving away the trophy by letting go of his lead that day. Then on top of that one of the FOX broadcasters had to bring up the question about the ruling right there in front of everyone.
Just heard crowd go “Booooooo!” during trophy presentation. That wasn’t for Boo Weekley. #USGA
— Brian Wacker (@brianwacker1) June 20, 2016
DJ handled himself incredibly and it’s a shame that his win for many was overshadowed by the messy and convoluted ruling of the USGA. In the end though, no one can deny that Dustin Johnson earned the title of major champion.