Jeff Overton, meet Juli Inkster.
PGA Tour golfer Overton took to Twitter Saturday to complain about how ignorance of the rules of golf got him disqualified halfway through his third round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
3 group back up at the turn. Rules official tells me we can practicechipping and putting. Disqualified for using my practice putting aid!— Jeff Overton (@JeffOvertonPGA) May 25, 2013
Why do rules officials initiate that conversation to begin with. I wouldn't even have gone up there if I had know that.What a joke!— Jeff Overton (@JeffOvertonPGA) May 25, 2013
If ur gonna inform someone on a rule of something a person can do, make sure u remind them of the small things they can't do.— Jeff Overton (@JeffOvertonPGA) May 25, 2013
Overton’s apparently not an LPGA fan or he might have recalled that Hall of Famer Juli Inkster met the same fate for breaching the same rule back in 2010. In Inkster’s case, she got the heave-ho from the LPGA Safeway Classic for using a weighted “doughnut” during competition.
No one would argue that golf’s edicts can be arcane, arbitrary and punitive (see: pending Rule 14-1b banning anchored putting), but everyone’s playing by the same ones. As Dottie Pepper suggested to SBNation recently, ya gotta know the rules to play this game.
“I think I’d go to rules school or pay somebody to come in,” Pepper, a 17-time winner on the LPGA Tour and incoming ESPN analyst said about Tiger Woods’ illegal drop and subsequent two-shot penalty during the Masters rules flap. “You don’t have to be an expert in the rules, but you need to know what mistakes not to make.”
That was certainly the case for Inkster and Overton, each of whom breached Rule 14-3, which clearly states that players “must not use any artificial device” during a “stipulated round.”
The rules bible also states that the penalty for violating said prohibition is disqualification. No way around that one, as LPGA tourney officials confirmed after they called the USGA and learned there was no “wiggle room,” LPGA director of tournament competitions Sue Witters told the Associated Press at the time. “It’s pretty cut and dried.”
Same thing goes for Overton, who committed his infraction while enduring a backup after finishing the ninth hole at Colonial Country Club. While waiting to tee of on No. 10, he decided to practice his putting on a green nearby, which is permissible.
Where Overton went wrong was in using an alignment stick, which Inkster could certainly tell him was a no-no.
“You can go to a designated practice area and chip and putt if you'd like while you are waiting to play,” Russell told PGATour.com's Mike McAllister. “But you cannot use an artificial device. That's what he did. The penalty for that is disqualification.”
While Overton checked with an official about the legality of practicing his putting during the wait, he failed to ask about the verboten device. Chances are, that won't happen again.
Tough break today. Looks like I gotta go back and rememorize a couple hundred pages of the usga rules book!— Jeff Overton (@JeffOvertonPGA) May 25, 2013
In Overton’s case, another player alerted an official about his opponent’s indiscretion, while Inkster was the victim of a TV viewer’s eagle eye.