Before we talk about the horror that befell Chris Crawford at the U.S. Amateur and why he was disqualified from the competition, let’s remember Bernhard Langer.
Why? Langer is capitalizing on the USGA’s “line in the sand” attitude toward anchoring. You can use longer-than-conventional-length putter, you can anchor it against your wrist, you can grip it however you want, but you can’t anchor it against your body.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) July 16, 2017
Wouldn’t it have been easier for the USGA to have said: “Use a conventional-length putter and grip it conventionally. Period.” Instead, the governing body has created a massive grey area, as well as suspicion for players who get too close to the aforementioned line.
It’s a similar situation with the USGA’s 2014 decision to allow rangefinders in amateur events. Players may measure distance with the devices and nothing else (wind, slope, etc). So the USGA thinks adjusting for slope is a skill, but calculating distance isn’t, or something. As such, most rangefinders have either covers that obstruct certain elements or mode selection to set the device for ”tournament play.”
So we come to the sad case of Chris Crawford. Crawford, competing in the stroke-play portion of the U.S. Amateur, suffered from an inappropriately configured rangefinder. Unfortunately for the Drexel alum he suffered because of his caddie’s mistake.
And even worse for Crawford: It wasn’t his regular caddie that made the faux pas. Rather, Crawford had to pick up a local caddie as his regular looper was sick. It’s unclear if the last-minute fill-in had any professional tournament experience or was merely used to caddying for members at the club. Based on what Crawford told ESPN’s Bob Harig, it didn’t sound like the caddie had any idea he was doing anything wrong.
The caddie began talking about slope calculations on course, information Crawford knew he shouldn’t be getting from the rangefinder.
“I was a little flustered and knew something was wrong,” Crawford told ESPN’s Bob Harig. “I asked my caddie what the deal was with his range finder. When he said it had a slope adjustment, I knew instantly that I had to disqualify myself.”
“I notified the walking scorer in my group, and after getting in touch with a rules official I learned it would have been a 2-shot penalty if I had used it just once, but the second time is a disqualification. I have my own range finder and I know the rule, but I didn’t think his would have that.”
Even worse, Crawford said he didn’t benefit from the slope info in the course of his one-plus stroke-play rounds.
After bringing the matter to the USGA’s attention, the authority found him to be in violation of Rule 14-3 and disqualified him “for multiple uses of a distance-measuring device with the slope feature activated by his caddie.”
This may be a new low in the Rule of Golf fiasco world: An amateur disqualified for a silly reason that was totally his caddie’s fault. But the USGA makes the rules, and, as golfers, we have no choice but to play by them.