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tyrrell hatton ryder cup

When will officials start dishing out penalties at big tournaments?

We collectively throw our arms up in disgust every time a player takes a hissy fit-fuelled chunk out of a green. But why do they get away with it? We certainly wouldn’t, writes Steve Carroll

 

There’s a Simpsons joke where, in the bowels of the Springfield nuclear power plant, a gaggle of eyes are fixed on Homer.

“Get ready everybody,” says Lenny. “He’s about to do something stupid.” This is how I feel watching Tyrrell Hatton on a golf course.

I’m sure some of you find it all hilarious – the source of a thousand memes. The barking, the talking, the ever-present danger of going atomic at any moment.

But this isn’t The Simpsons.

Try his little putter trick from Thursday at your club today and see what happens. If a greenkeeper catches you, God help you.

You’d deserve all you’d get too. There’s something just unbelievably petulant about damaging someone’s hard graft, no matter how cross you are at missing that putt.

If you’d face the consequences if you swiped a club into a green and dented it, when are golf’s authorities going to get the stones to do something about this sort of stuff?

Hatton’s slap at Southern Hills shouldn’t just annoy you from an etiquette perspective.

It should irk you because there are ways of dealing with these kind of things that are set down in the rules. As golfers, there are standards expected of us when we play and a commitment to uphold the spirit of the game.

We agree to look out for the safety of others, play promptly, and not cause unnecessary damage to the course. For cases of serious misconduct, you can even be disqualified.

If there’s a code of conduct in place, warnings and other penalties can be leveraged. So why aren’t they? And if they are, why don’t we know about them?

It’s easier to find out who’s had a Partygate fine than work out who’s been subject to disciplinary action on some of golf’s main tours.

There will be apologists out there who will tell you these things really aren’t that bad, and aren’t worthy of sanctions.

But set down a proper marker and you’ll kill it at a (penalty) stroke.

So if you want to take a big dent out of a green, it’ll come with consequences. If shouting fore is too much of a hassle, take a shot penalty and see if you’re still silent the next time you send one wayward.

And then perhaps we’ll stop seeing so many things that are stupid.

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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