"We had to protect the field," says Graves.
Oh, stick it in your ball washer. The "integrity of the event"? When they DQ'd a man for something a boy did innocently, the event immediately had all the integrity of Cheez Whiz.
"No gray area"? There's more gray area in golf than in a year's worth of Wall Street Journals. Did you mean to hit that ball, or was it just a practice swing (18-2a/20)? Is the snake still alive (outside agency) or is it dead (loose impediment, 18/4)?
"Protect the field"? Name me one possible competitive advantage that Johnson gained. Did the jelly stains on Derek's face inspire him?
Golf takes itself so damn seriously it makes me want to ralph on a burrowing animal. The rules say you can't fix a spike mark, but if you can find enough people to help, you can roll a 1,000-pound boulder out of the way (23-1/3). John Daly can slap at his ball 24 times on one hole and nobody says boo, but Padraig Harrington forgets to sign his card after Thursday's round at the Benson & Hedges and he's DQ'd on Sunday with a five-shot lead.
But the AGA bottoms everything. I've covered golf for 22 years, and this is the most nitpicky, mean-spirited ruling I've ever heard of. Graves should've simply mentioned it to Johnson. Instead, he shot a mosquito with an elephant gun.
To his credit, the lieutenant colonel took the AGA's decision with more honor than it deserved. Johnson took full blame. "I guess I'm going home," he said, before gathering the sobbing boys. Not a word was said the whole way back to Sierra Vista. Father and son opened their presents, but, as Seth says, "It didn't feel very good." His mom's crying probably didn't help the mood any. Derek still feels bad.
A man named Jack Burke was handed the Graves Cup. That's what the winner of the Mid-Amateur gets—the Graves Cup, named after the very same rules official, Robert (Doc) Graves.
Hope the guy uses it for a spittoon.