Top 10: Ways to get disqualified from golf events

There are more ways to find yourself thrown out of a tournament than by filling in your scorecard wrongly

How many times when you’re out playing do you let little things slide? Or how many times have you made a tiny error, only for your playing partner(s) to call you on a rule and insist you take a penalty? 

Well thank your lucky stars that your living doesn’t rest on these minor infringements. In this ‘Top 10’ we take a look at some of the weirdest reasons for professional golfers to have been disqualified for.

Some will leave you wondering how they even made it pro in the first place…

10. Doug Sanders


At the 1966 Pensacola Open the Open nearly man was in top form and spent some considerable time signing autographs after his second round. But the American forgot to sign his name where it mattered most: on his scorecard. This earned him a disqualification and the $10,000 prize money. Ouch.

9. Greg Norman


Defending his Greater Hartford Open title in 1996, the Australian had shared the first-round lead. Just before this third round Norman was disqualified when it was found out that his ball was improperly stamped and not certified by the USGA. Check your balls.

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8. Bronte Law


The world’s second-ranked female amateur golfer lost her chance of appearing in the 2015 Ricoh Women’s Open after making a distinctly amateur blunder. Law took out her laser rangefinder on the fourth hole at Irvine Golf Club, by the time she realised her mistake it was too late –DMDs are permitted in amateur competition. She saw it coming.

7.  Jim Furyk


The U.S. Open winner was disqualified from the 2010 Barclays after failing to make his 7:30am shotgun start at the Pro-Am. The reason – he overslept. His excuse – his mobile phone battery died and he didn’t have a backup. Keep your devices charged.

6. Ed ’Porky’ Oliver


During the final round of the 1940 U.S. Open, Oliver had a share of the lead with Lawson Little and Gene Sarazen. But unfortunately for the American, the weather was about to take a turn, in a bid to beat the rain, Oliver’s group teed off before their scheduled time, as the official starter was still out for lunch. Even protests from Sarazen and Little – who thought Oliver should be able to compete in the play-off – couldn’t prevent disqualification. Always be on time.

5. Dustin Johnson


Mega hitting Johnson was on the wrong end of the rulebook during the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. The ’bunkers’ at Whistling Straits looking like scuffy turf than a ’proper’ sand pit. “It never once crossed my mind that I was in a bunker,” stated Johnson. It turned out an eagle-eyed fan spotted his infraction on TV and then phoned the U.S. PGA like an informant. Don’t go to ground.
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4. Craig Stadler


At the 1987 San Diego Open, Masters winner Stadler hit his shot into some soft mud against a tree. To take the shot he had to kneel down, but not wanting to get his trousers damp and dirty he chose to place a towel down and kneel on that. This was deemed to be ’building a stance’ by officials – stupidly harsh we think. Much like Johnson, he was tattled on by a TV viewer. Sometimes you have to get dirty.

3. Paul Azinger


Much like our previous American’s Azinger incurred the wrath of yet another TV viewer, who tattled on the 1993 U.S. PGA Championship winner player after he knocked a rock whilst playing out of water hazard. After already signing his scorecard (without the 1-stroke penalty) the man from Massachusetts was disqualified from the 1991 Doral Ryder Open. Rock and roll.

2. Meg Mallon/Lee Janzen


This is a joint effort in reality as both players suffered at the hands of the rules. At the 1996 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, LPGA player Meg Mallon was burned after her putt ended next to the hole and slowly moved for another 15 to 20 seconds until it fell in. She thought she’d made a miraculous birdie. 

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Janzen saw his putt hang on the 17th hole at the 1998 NEC World Series of Golf – bent down and consulted playing partner Vijay Singh who also saw the ball very slowly creeping towards the hole. Janzen waited 20 seconds or so before attempting to tap in for par, but the ball had other ideas and dropped for what he thought was a birdie. Both players were disqualified after Officials deemed they waited too long for their putts to drop. Slow play is poor play.

1. Edoardo Molinari


Italian Edoardo Molinari suffered as a result of his caddie being a little lazy during the 2015 Shenzhen International. Riding on a golf cart at any time is usually punished with a two-stroke penalty, but as Molinari didn’t know his caddie got a quick lift – to catch-up with the Italian – he didn’t add the penalty shots and therefore carded an incorrect round score. Stay on your feet.

Honourable mentions

Dave Hill
The American let his temper get the better of him at the 1971 Colonial Open in Texas, after hitting a shot into a bunker, Hill picked up his ball and threw it onto the green. He marked down a 2 for the hole and was DQ’d and fined for his action.

Lisa McCloskey
Similarly to Molinari, amateur McCloskey was disqualified from the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open after her caddie took a golf cart to the toilet in a bid to prevent delaying play.


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