Bear with me for a minute.
Let’s say it’s 2000 and Tiger Woods is charging toward the 72nd hole of the Masters. Were he to win, it would give Woods all four major professional majors in 2000. We’re not talking about some feeble Tiger Slam. No, I’m talking about all four majors in the same calendar year.
Wow. What happened?
On the 72nd, hole, the legendary par-4 finishing hole at Augusta National Tiger Woods smashed a perfect drive, just right of the fairway bunkers. But, as it bounced to a stop it skipped into a fairway divot. The announcers and Woods moaned in near-poetic unison.
Woods glowered at the ball and the divot. He cursed the golf gods. He cursed the player who created that horrid divot. He cursed his bad luck. But, more than anything he cursed the rule of golf that prevented him from taking relief from a tiny bit of missing turf in the middle of the fairway. Clearly, this was an area of the golf course that was damaged and according to the rules, ground under repair. But it wasn’t…So Woods played the ball as it sat; made bogey and missed winning the 2000 Masters by a single stroke.
Then. again in my alternate time, just a few months ago at the 2016 PGA Championship, Woods stood over a putt that would have won him his 15th major championship. Halfway to the hole was a nasty spike mark, dead in Woods’ line. Again, he stared at the mark and cursed the universe and the USGA rule that prohibits the repair of such marks. He settled over his putt and made the perfect stroke.
The ball rolled end over end, destined for the hole, right until the moment that it hit that single unrepairable spike mark.
Tiger Woods was denied another major and the legions of golf fans felt denied. Through no fault of his own, the arbitrary, senseless rules of golf had seemingly conspired to the deny the best player of our era a deserved win.
Also in this fantasy world, imagine this:
Tiger Woods saw fit to use his immense wealth and fame to coerce the USGA and the R&A to correct the silly, foolish rules that upset his path to history. The golf world would have turned against him instantly. This would not be the actions of another athlete who cheated on his wife and children. No, these would be the actions of a man who found himself at odds with the very same rules he had played under his entire professional and amateur career. His motives would be clear to everyone and so his legend would be destroyed. The same fans who could forgive his foolish and inexplicable banging of strippers and Perkins’ waitresses could never accept his effort to change the rules for the sake of his own record. Woods’ fans could accept any weakness but a surrender to the same rules that everyone plays by.
This is exactly the mistake Barbara Boxer has made in the aftermath of the hotly contested 2016 presidential election. She has seen her party and platform stung by the effect of the electoral college for the second time in less than a generation and she’s not going to stand still for it. But, the problem is that her motivation is too clearly in the interest of her party rather than her country. I think there’s a simple test to prove my belief. Boxer has been a US senator since 1992. In that time, there have been seven presidential elections but the only other time she has devoted any energy to the electoral college was in 2005 when she challenged Ohio’s electors in a futile effort to delay the re-election of George W. Bush, who had just won the popular vote over John Kerry by more than 3 million votes.
Me? I’m on the fence about the electoral college. However, I do firmly believe that Rule 16-1c (the rule that prohibits repairing a spike mark on the green) is fundamentally unfair.
At the same time, I think the rule that disallows taking relief from a fairway divot should stand. The text of Rule 13 is simple.
Play the ball as it lies.
I wonder if Barbara Boxer plays golf?