Shackelford: Matt Kuchar's latest act goes against spirit of the rules

AP Photo/John Amis

Shackelford: Matt Kuchar's latest act goes against spirit of the rules

Euro Tour

Shackelford: Matt Kuchar's latest act goes against spirit of the rules

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El Tucan technically was not entitled to a normal caddie payday after a big win in Mexico.

The pitch mark at the Memorial was his because someone said so, yet a replay said otherwise and a third opinion was asked for to get a better lie.

And now coarse waste bunker sand is a loose impediment.

The newly revised rules opened the door for the latest questionable act of sportsmanship by Matt Kuchar. Players can now move a loose impediment in a bunker. As Kuchar demonstrated, if sand is coarse enough to be a pebble in the eyes of any official, then all of the tiny particles are loose impediments.

While using the rules of golf to your advantage is wise, it’s confounding to watch someone with a once solid reputation and plenty of cash in the bank to snub his upturned nose at the spirit of the rules. Again. In the same year. On television.

Kuchar takes well over the time allotted to play a shot while we are watching— television cut away after 40 seconds of Kuchar’s trench dig — and seems to improve his lie in the “waste area.”

Here is the video from last week’s European Tour event, the 2019 Porsche European Open where Kuchar missed the cut:

Technically, Kuchar did not violate the rules because this was not a bunker and a rules official determined the waste area to be made up of millions of loose impediments. (That this was the conclusion is another matter entirely.)

While players have pushed the spirit of the rules in many ways, this year’s revised language opened the door to an erosion of player values when it comes to how their ball rests. So far it hasn’t happened.

But there is no more important rule than play it as it lies. The fundamental rule of all rules. The one that started it all and the one good players take the most seriously. Especially when a camera is on them.

Kuchar may be an outlier when it comes to believing he is entitled to the lie he wants. Or this may have nothing to do with the new rules and all to do with Kuchar’s sense of entitlement. But if this is an attack on play it as it lies, then shoring up this waste bunker vs. sand and what’s a pebble, or what is not a pebble, needs addressing. The game is already slow enough with way too much touching of the ball (and ground around a ball).

We should not be surprised after this year’s introduction of spike-mark tapping and pebble picking that there could be a further erosion of etiquette. Still, no one else has been this brazen in pushing the boundaries of common sense and courtesy to the field. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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