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Masters cut rule

Want to act like Sergio? Then find yourself a new club

The sight of Sergio Garcia taking a chunk out of a tee at TPC Southwind brought sighs from golfers all over the world. But why does the Spaniard keep getting a break? You’d be finding a new club if you followed suit

 

The putter shaped dent in the 10th green hadn’t been there long before the voices started.

It began with whispers in the clubhouse, which got louder with every passing golfer that arrived to lament the act of ‘mindless’ vandalism.

Then it exploded over our club’s chatroom – a cacophony of howls decrying the damage and starting the witch-hunt to find the perpetrator.

The tee times of various players were trotted out. It wasn’t there at this time, but it was at that.

Every budding Sherlock Holmes was narrowing the list. It was only a matter of arithmetic, of matching names to numbers, before the culprit was identified.

Backed into a cyber corner, the felon emerged – throwing themselves on the mercy of the members. Suitably remorseful, the grovelling apology was accepted. But such an act never happened again.

Whether it’s trolleys on tees, buggies being wheeled across greens, or players swiping a lump in frustration out of a tee, we’re actually remarkably adept at rooting out childish indiscretions at our clubs and dealing with them.

If your clubhead strikes turf in anger, makes a wedged size hole in a bunker, or destroys a greenkeeper’s hard work, you can expect the vilification of your peers and, in the worst examples, a request to play your golf somewhere else.

So why is it different in the professional game? Why does Sergio Garcia keep getting a free pass? The Spaniard’s latest act of poor behaviour, which saw him react to a bad drive by digging up the 16th tee at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis, was the most recent misdemeanour in a long rap sheet.

Taking into account just this year, he’s also chucked a club at his caddie and been disqualified from the Saudi International for damaging not one but FIVE greens.

‘This is not who I truly am’, he bleated after that incident, which saw him turfed out of the tournament for what the Rules of Golf term ‘serious misconduct’.

It turns out, not that any of us needed it spelling, that this is exactly who he is.

What’s most worrying is not just that the former Masters champion never seems to learn but that those in charge of the professional tours don’t take what we club golfers can see as meaningful action.

Garcia will probably get a fine – though will we ever find out given revealing disciplinary details on either tour is tantamount to breaching the Official Secrets Act?

What good does that do anyway?

I once saw a leading tour player in a clubhouse settling up a friendly match by getting out a wad of £50 notes so large it could have paid the deposit on my house.

You can’t hit these guys in the pocket. You have to hit them where it hurts – by dishing out a substantial ban.

I’ll bet Garcia would turn from spoiled brat to valedictorian in the swish of a 7-iron if he couldn’t tee it up at Royal St George’s next year, for example.

It’s the hypocrisy that irks me the most. As club players, we’re being lectured at all levels about upholding the spirit of the game.

The conduct “expected by all players” is written into the new rules and here’s a guy that can vandalise a golf course and seemingly get away almost Scot free.

It’s one rule for them and another for us.

Damage five of your club’s greens with your putter and it doesn’t matter how frustrating a day you’ve had on the links. You’ll be handing back your bag tag and escorted off the premises.

And that’s exactly how it should be. So let’s have the European and PGA Tours lead the way. Clamp down on this kind of stupidity and rid it from the game for good.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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