Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

The List: The oddest golf rule violations

Golf loves rules. We all know that. But at the US Open this week, the rules police broke the unwritten one about natural justice. Photo / Getty Images.
Golf loves rules. We all know that. But at the US Open this week, the rules police broke the unwritten one about natural justice. Photo / Getty Images.

Golf loves rules. We all know that. But at the US Open this week, the rules police broke the unwritten one about natural justice.

Eventual winner Dustin Johnson was told on the 12th hole that a possible infraction seven holes earlier would be reviewed after he finished and might cost him a shot and the title.

What is this? Monty Python's Silly Olympics. Johnson survived to win the title, which is very lucky for golf.

Here's a potted history of great moments in golf rule violations.

1) Put it this way: Dustin Johnson deserved a break. Back in 2010, he needed par on the final hole in Wisconsin to win the PGA when his club touched what looked like normal, trampled rough. Unbeknownst to him, any area with a hint of sand was a bunker at Whistling Pines. Two shot penalty. Bye bye Dustin. Johnson said: "It didn't even look like sand. It looked like dirt. It's where the crowd was standing, and generally the crowd doesn't stand in a bunker." Moral of the story: read all the briefings on the locker room wall.

2) Luke Donald, the world number one at the time, narrowly escaped disqualification in the 2012 Masters at Augusta when it was discovered a bogey had been misread as a birdie. The mix up involved a scorecard smudge and a fax machine. Really? A fax machine? In 2012? That's taking tradition a bit far.

3) Argentine Roberto de Vicenzo should have been in a 1968 Masters playoff but signed for a 66 instead of 65 on his final round and had to settle for a incorrect higher score and second place. Playing partner Tommy Aaron had marked a four instead of 3 on the 17th hole. "He should've checked his scorecard," said an unsympathetic Aaron. This was an historic moment - in response the Masters introduced a little hut for score checking. Who says the Masters isn't progressive.

4) England's Mark Roe and playing partner Jesper Parnevik forgot to swap cards before the third round of the 2003 British Open, meaning the correct scores were on the wrong cards. Ooops. Roe, who was in contention, said: "The opportunity I had at Sandwich would have changed my life if I'd played well enough (in the final round)." Parnevik called it the "dumbest rule ever" and it was subsequently relaxed. In a clearer transgression years earlier, Roe was fined for hurling a bowl of spaghetti over the head of a fellow player in a Paris restaurant.

5) Welshman Ian Woosnam was blown out of 2001 British Open contention by a two shot penalty for having an extra club in his bag, breaking the limit of 14. It inspired the immortal line to his caddy Miles Byrne: "I give you one ****ing job and you can't even do that." And the pain never really went away. "...people are still shouting, 'Hey Woosie, how many clubs you got in that bag?' That does my head in," he told The Telegraph over a decade later.

6) LPGA star Juli Inkster was dobbed in by a TV viewer at the 2010 Safeway for using a weighted training aid, a "doughnut", on her nine iron while killing time on the 10th hole. Viewers are allowed to call in, e-mail, text or presumably fax (see 2 above) if they see a violation. Inkster said: "I had a 30-minute wait and I needed to loosen up...it had no effect on my game whatsoever." Well, if loosening up had no effect on your game, why do it?

7) When big Craig Stadler knelt on a towel to play a difficult shot under a tree at the 1987 San Diego Open, the tournament was inundated with phone calls - and perhaps a fax or two - by more of those damn snitches watching TV. Stadler had violated the rule which prohibits "building" a stance. This invalidated Stadler's scorecard, and he was disqualified after finishing second. There was a happy-revenge ending. When the tree was found to be rotten years later, Stadler took up the invitation to fell it with a chainsaw. Stadler said: "It's been eight years. It's time to put it to rest".

8) Paul Azinger committed the cardinal sin of nudging a rock - moving a loose impediment in golf rule book speak - while taking his stance on the edge of a water hazard at a 1991 tournament in Miami. You know the drill - rules violation, incorrect scorecard signed, TV viewer, fax or phone, disqualification buddy. When Azinger went to a bar a few days later, people shouted "Watch out for those pebbles." Azinger said: "It didn't really strike my funny bone"

9) TV viewers may have failed to dob Jeff Sluman in at the 1996 Bay Hill, but Sluman wasn't asleep at the wheel. The American was in contention, but while lying in bed mid-tournament realised he may have made an illegal drop. He returned to the scene of the self-alleged crime, conducted an investigation, deduced he had dropped the ball closer to the hole, and reported himself. Either that, or his conscience got the better of him (I jest, maybe). Owning up in golf carries no leniency deals and he was disqualified.

10) Ed "Porky" Oliver was disqualified out of a playoff at the 1940 US Open for teeing off too early - his group thought the weather was dodgy so they jumped the gun while the official starter was having lunch. Come on guys. What is this - Chamberlain Park? Porky never won a major.

- NZ Herald

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