So this is how it's going to be? Some people (not you, of course) are going to sit on their couches, watch golf tournaments and try to find rules violations? It happened to Juli Inkster last week at the LPGA's Safeway Classic in Oregon. She's trying to stay loose during a delay on the par-5 10th hole by swinging a club that has a weighted "donut.'' An alert tattletale … um, viewer … e-mailed that Inkster was violating Rule 14-3 of the USGA rules of golf. The rule states a player can't use a practice device during rounds. Inkster was disqualified from a tournament she had a good chance of winning. The winner's share was $225,000. Thanks a lot, anonymous e-mailer. "I don't really get it, but it's done,'' Inkster said.
How about this for a rule: Any person who calls in or e-mails a rules violation has to give his name. The tour officials then pass that on so the player at least knows who exactly is costing him or her thousands of dollars.
And who are these callers and e-mailers, anyway? Do they sit around shooting the tours e-mails all weekend?
"I wouldn't say we get a lot, but we do get a decent amount,'' said Mike Scanlan, LPGA public relations manager. "A lot of them aren't valid, but we look into everything. I admit that it is an interesting phenomenon, but the way we look at it, it's respecting the integrity of the game.''
Scanlan said in the case of Inkster, the e-mail went to officials at the Safeway Classic. They forwarded it to LPGA rules officials, who confronted Inkster.
That was the second time in as many weeks that a player has been nailed with a rules infraction. Dustin Johnson will forever be remembered for grounding his club in a "bunker'' on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship. Upon learning of his disqualification, fans on the course loudly booed.
Here's a look at some other infamous rule breakers:
1. Craig Stadler was just trying to keep his pants clean when he attempted a shot on the 14th hole of the 1987 Andy Williams Open. He drove his ball under a tree and decided the only way to hit it was from his knees. He kneeled on a towel before hitting the shot, which is actually a two-stroke penalty for building a stance. He failed to note the penalty and was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. In 1995, Stadler got some revenge when course officials allowed him to cut the tree down.
2. Paul Azinger suffered the same fate as Inkster back in 1991. After two rounds of the Doral Ryder Open, Azinger was a shot back. But a viewer called the PGA Tour saying Azinger committed a violation the day before. He nudged a pebble out of the way in a shallow water hazard, which is a two-shot penalty. Azinger signed an incorrect card from the opening round and was disqualified.
3. Ian Woosnam was right on David Duval's heels as he stood on the second hole at the 2001 British Open. Then his caddie discovered there were two drivers in the bag. That meant he had 15 clubs, one over the limit. He suffered a two-stroke penalty and never recovered
4. Mark Wilson gets the good guy award for this one. At the 2007 Honda Classic, his caddie told his playing partner what loft club Wilson used to hit a shot. Caddies can give information only to their own players. Wilson knew that and assessed a two-stroke penalty on himself. With good karma on his side, Wilson went on to win the tournament anyway.
5. Roberto De Vicenzo is probably the most famous rule breaker. In the final round of the 1968 Masters, he signed for a 4 on the par-3 17th hole but actually had a 3 (playing partner Tommy Aaron wrote down 4 and de Vicenzo didn't catch it). He had to take the higher score and missed out on a playoff. Afterward, he gave us the immortal quote, "What a stupid I am."
And then there is Wie …
Michelle Wie has been a pro since 2005. In her brief career, Wie, 20, already has had some memorable rule book gaffes:
•In 2005 at the Samsung World Championships, Wie took a drop on the seventh hole and a one-stroke penalty. She played on, but later it was ruled that her drop was actually closer to the hole and should have been a two-stroke penalty. She was disqualified.
•At the 2006 Women's British Open, Wie made contact with a piece of moss behind her ball in a greenside bunker. She was penalized two shots after the round and fell 10 shots back. "I thought if you hit dirt it would be okay, but I guess I knew the rule wrong,'' she said.
•At the 2008 State Farm Classic, Wie was a shot off the lead after the third round. But it was discovered that she did not sign her second-round scorecard. She was disqualified from that tournament as well.
•In March, Wie was in second place at the Kia Classic in Hawaii on Sunday when she hit a shot into the greenside pond. The ball was half submerged, and Wie attempted to hit the ball out of the hazard. Her blast went only a few inches out of the pond but was still in the marked-off hazard area. She then put her club down in the hazard as she got out of the pond. Two-shot penalty for grounding her club, even though it was nowhere near the ball. She finished tied for sixth and lost about $90,000.
Some other obscure golf rules
1. Rule 18-1: You hit one right down the middle, but before you can get to your ball, a bird or dog or duck comes by and takes the ball. It is okay to replace the ball at the spot it was moved from with no penalty. However, if a ball is moved by a player, caddie or equipment, then it's a one-stroke penalty.
2. Rule 12-2: Let's say you are playing a Titleist 1. You knock your drive well right into the fairway bunker. Your playing partner does the same, with the same kind of ball. You enter the bunker and realize both balls are the same without any identifying marks. The rule states that both balls are now lost balls. Players are penalized one stroke and must go back and rehit their drives.
3. 14-1: The rule states that golfers may not push, scrape or spoon the ball while putting. Why is this important? Because it prevents your friends from using the putter like a pool cue to knock in a close putt. That would be a one-stroke penalty.