Gag Rule: Tweets And Hidden Club Trick Lead To Sanctions On Euro Tour

CELADNA, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 20: Jose Manual Lara of Spain in action during the third round of the Czech Open 2011 at Prosper Golf Resort on August 20, 2011 in Celadna, Czech Republic. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

European Tour players are running amok -- what with hidden golf clubs and (gasp!) blatant misuse of social media platforms.

Jose Manuel Lara may be looking for more than his golf club, which his caddie stashed in the bushes during the first round of the BMW International Open. After officials disqualified the Spanish golfer for having too many clubs in his bag, Lara could be in the market for a new looper.

Lara’s bagman, according to the Associated Press, tried to hide what turned out to be a 15th stick he discovered during Thursday’s round at the Gut Larcenhof course in Pulheim, Germany. When his caddie disappeared for a moment, Lara wondered if his guy were answering a “call of nature,” the AP said, but playing partners Damien McGrane and Peter Hedblom weren’t buying it.

Caught with his virtual pants down, Lara’s caddie came clean about the extra club, which led European Tour chief referee John Paramor to DQ Lara, according to Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Golf, which clearly states that “for any breach of Rule by his caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.”

Then there was the case of James Morrison, who violated a far more obscure Euro Tour guideline when he tweeted recently about his dislike for Celtic Manor, site of the recent Wales Open. Seems Morrison was no fan of what he called a “dump” of a course and that “one more round and then can’t get over that bridge quick enough!” according to another AP story.

Well, such “offensive, threatening, disparaging, hurtful or otherwise” comments -- tweeted, or otherwise conveyed -- are definite no-nos on the European professional golf circuit. Morrison’s comments were so over the line that tour officials deemed it necessary to caution players at this week's BMW International that violators of social media rules were subject to punishment, such as the fine Morrison received for his ill-considered course review.

In addition to tour-levied sanctions, players who tweet discourteous comments could become the target of civil actions from “any other parties” who may take offense at players’ comments. Last year, Marcus Fraser ran afoul of the Euro Tour’s Big Brotherism when he had to pay a reported 10,000 Euro for complaining, on Facebook, about a competitor’s rather obvious breach of golf course etiquette.

During the final holes of the second round of last August’s Johnnie Walker Championship, Rafa Echenique was on his way to missing the cut when he allegedly used his cell phone to change his flight plans. While golfers may use mobile devices for anything but golf instructions, Fraser took to Facebook to rip Echenique’s deed -- a posting that resulted in the fine for “bringing the Tour into disrepute,” according to multiple reports.

Could have been worse, as Phil Mickelson might attest. At least Echenique did not use his cell phone to snap photos of Fraser during his back swing.

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