Northwestern leads handily with two days of play left at the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms. That’s a very good thing for Sarah Cho, who cost her team two strokes in the most bizarre of fashions (Kent State’s Kelly Nielsen was likewise guilty).
So what imprudent/illegal thing were the pair of golfers guilty of? Going to the bathroom. Rather, the manner in which they got to the bathroom.
Since golfers aren’t allowed to ride in carts unless authorized—think the Jason Day and Billy Horschel being shuttled to the tee of the first playoff hole at the Byron Nelson—Cho broke a rule when she hopped on a cart to head to the bathroom. Nielsen, the Kent State golfer, likewise was in violation for asking a volunteer to drive her to the bathroom after she stepped off the 13th green.
“That was my bad,” Cho said laughing after her round. It’s easy to laugh when your team is eight strokes ahead. Nielsen, for her part, wouldn’t comment on the penalty.
Adding to the madness, Northwestern’s head coach, Emily Fletcher, was made aware almost immediately of what Cho had done and knew there would be a penalty. But not wanting to throw Cho off her game, made the decision not to tell her player until after the round.
And even more silly: Cho took the cart ride to the clubhouse after not finding any port-a-potties near the 18th green. They were there, however, just not prominently placed.
Ultimately, this is yet another rules incident where common sense ought to have prevailed. Players are shuttled between holes with regularity at tournaments. In some cases, that shuttle may stop by a bathroom. However, the same sense isn’t extended to individual players.
Can anyone truly argue that either of these women were unfairly advantaged by taking a cart to the bathroom rather than walking? Should they be penalized for having to pee at a particular time when their opponents didn’t?
And what even is the theory of this rule? That because every player can’t take a cart to the luxurious clubhouse toilets, none should? That everyone should be subjected to the existential terror and hellacious smells of the same port-a-potties?
While it’s clear that, in Cho’s case at least, she ought to have used the portable facilities near the 18th green and made a mistake in commandeering a cart to find another bathroom, the idea that she ought to sacrifice two strokes is absolutely ridiculous.