THE GREAT SPORTSMAN
Bobby Jones is best known for winning golf's Grand Slam, founding Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, and for being a consummate sportsman.
The career amateur's most famous example of sportsmanship occurred during the 1925 U.S. Open. During the first round he called a penalty on himself when his ball moved ever so slightly as he was preparing to play a stroke. The infraction was not seen by anyone else, but Jones insisted on taking the penalty. It cost him an outright victory in regulation, and he lost a 36-hole playoff to Willie Macfarlane.
"You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank," Jones said famously after the press praised him for his sportsmanship. "There is only one way to play this game."
Today, the Bob Jones Award is annually given by the U.S. Golf Association to the person who emulates the sportsmanship, respect for the game and its rules, and generosity of spirit set by Jones.
PALMER'S DOUBLE PLAY
Arnold Palmer and Ken Venturi were paired together in the final round of the 1958 Masters. When the two reached the par-3 12th hole, Palmer held a one-shot lead over Venturi.
Because of heavy rains the night before, an embedded ball rule was in effect on the soggy course. That meant that a ball plugged into the turf could be lifted and dropped into a new lie without penalty.
Venturi's tee shot found the back edge of the green, but Palmer's ball flew long and wound up partially plugged into the bank between the green and the rear bunker.
Palmer sought relief from the rules official at the 12th but was told he was not entitled to a free drop. He played the ball, flubbed his second shot, then chipped onto the green for his third shot. He two-putted for a double-bogey five.
At that point, Palmer decided to play a second ball. Going back to the original spot, he dropped another ball and, from a much better lie, chipped it close and made a par.
Palmer and Venturi continued play as tournament officials discussed which score should stand.
If the ruling went against him, Palmer knew he would be trailing Venturi. On the next hole, the par-5 13th, Venturi had safely laid up in two shots in front of the green. Palmer went for the green, figuring that he needed to make a move. The gamble paid off as his 3-wood shot found the green some 20 feet from the hole, and he rolled in the putt for eagle.
Masters officials notified Palmer and Venturi on the 15th hole of their decision: Palmer's score on No. 12 would be a three.
In his 2004 book, Getting Up & Down, Venturi wrote that he felt Palmer had improperly played the second ball.
"You can't do that. You have to declare a second before you hit your first one," Venturi said he told Palmer at the time. "Suppose you had chipped in with the other ball? Would you still be playing a second?"
Palmer went on to win the first of his four Masters by one shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins. Venturi wound up tied for fourth, two strokes back.
"There was no doubt in my heart that it was a three,'' Palmer said later. ``It was just a matter of the officials having to make a decision and I thought I had a three. I wanted to protect myself, though, and that's the reason I played both balls so there could be no question one way or the other."
Palmer's victory was the springboard for a career that saw him win nine majors and made him the game's most popular player.
Venturi's loss was his second at Augusta in three years. In 1960, Venturi was poised to win the Masters before Palmer birdied the final two holes to get the victory. Venturi, who won the 1964 U.S. Open, went on to a long career as a television analyst for CBS.
"WHAT STUPID I AM"
Bob Goalby's torrid stretch of birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 13-15 propelled him to a final-round 66 and a total of 11-under 277.
Roberto De Vicenzo played equally well, making birdies at Nos. 15 and 17, before a bogey on the 18th left him with an apparent 65 and 11-under total.
Preparations were under way for an 18-hole playoff on Monday to determine the winner.
With De Vicenzo waiting for Goalby to finish up, playing partner Tommy Aaron noticed that De Vicenzo's scorecard total was for a 66. He pointed out the error to a Masters official, and a hasty meeting was convened in Bobby Jones' cottage.
Under the rules of golf, a player is responsible for the individual score on each hole of his card. Once a player has signed for his score, it must stand.
"It's a shame," Aaron said last year. "He should've checked his scorecard."
'WHAT A STUPID I AM'
De Vicenzo, a popular Argentine who had won the British Open the year before, was celebrating his 45th birthday that Sunday at Augusta. The galleries had serenaded him with "Happy Birthday" as he made his way around the course.
What could have been a joyous occasion quickly turned sour after the error was discovered.
"I play golf all over the world for 30 years, and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament," De Vicenzo said afterward. "Never have I ever done such a thing."
It didn't take Masters officials long to make their decision. Less than 30 minutes after Goalby's group had finished, the verdict came back in a statement from Hord Hardin, then president of the U.S. Golf Association and chairman of the Masters rules committee:
"Under the rules of golf, he (De Vicenzo) will be charged with a 66 which does not leave him in a tie with Bob Goalby, who is 11 under par. He is second, 10 under par."
If De Vicenzo had signed for a score that was lower than what he had actually made, the penalty would have been disqualification. De Vicenzo had to settle for second place and the silver medal that goes to the runner-up.
Goalby never got the proper credit for winning his only major championship, while De Vicenzo became a sympathetic figure for his mistake.
"I'm very happy I won the tournament, and I'd be a liar if I told you I wasn't," Goalby said. "But I'm really sorry I won it the way I did. I'd much rather have done it in a playoff."
Today, golfers at the Masters go into a scorer's tent (actually a small building behind the 18th green) and sign their cards in privacy. In 1968, De Vicenzo and other players did not have such a facility.
"The best thing that came out of it was the tent -- they use those all over the world now," Goalby told The Chronicle years later.
WHAT'S THE RULING?
Jeff Maggert, 2003:
Maggert held the 54-hole lead, but it didn't last for long. On the third hole of the final round, Maggert's tee shot found the fairway bunker on the left. His second shot hit the top of the bunker, bounced back and hit Maggert. That cost him a two-shot penalty, and he went on to take a triple bogey and lose his lead. He never recovered.
Rule 19-2 was amended for 2008 to one shot in both stroke and match play.
Tiger Woods, 2007:
An errant tee shot on the 11th hole of the final round put Woods behind a pine tree. Already trailing, Woods decided to sacrifice his 4-iron. He did just that, mangling the club but punching the ball toward the green. He went on to par the hole, but eventually lost by two shots to Zach Johnson.
"That's not the first time that's happened," Woods said. "I did that at the 1999 Tour Champions when I hit a rock."
Under Rule 4-3, Woods could have replaced the broken club because it happened during the course of play. If he had damaged the club some other way -- i.e., in anger -- he would not have been able to replace it.
Woods chose to not replace the club.
Larry Nelson was the last player to be disqualified at the Masters.
It happened after Nelson shot 1-over-par 73 in the opening round in 1992, and it was because he used non-conforming clubs.
The Merit brand irons being used by Nelson had decorative diamond shapes on the club face that were found to be non-conforming by the U.S. Golf Association. The PL System irons were being used by Nelson for the first time.
The Masters Tournament is played under the Rules of Golf, which are administered by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
Like the governing bodies, Augusta National Golf Club believes that the course should be played as found and that the ball should be played as it lies.
Will Nicholson, former chairman of the tournament's rules and competition committee, made that point clear a few years back when asked if the club would ever allow golfers to lift, clean and place their balls during inclement weather.
"No, sir," Nicholson responded. "We believe that's the traditional way to play the game and that's the way we intend to play the game."