Sports Law Blog
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Dustin Johnson and the Fairness of Punishing Him: Lessons from the Law
If you watched the final round of the PGA Championship this past weekend, you probably feel bad for Dustin Johnson. He held a one-shot lead entering the final hole and bogeyed that last hole, leading--so it seemed--to a three-way tie with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer.
Losing a lead on the last hole and having to enter into a playoff would probably be disappointing to any golfer. Especially in a championship.
As it turns out, though, Johnson was about to experience a profound and unique kind of disappointment. Instead of entering into a playoff, Johnson received a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club (meaning the club touched the earth behind the ball prior to the swing) in a bunker, which is against PGA rules, though is allowed on most places on a golf course. Johnson, like other golfers, had been briefed on the rules of the course before the tournament and warned that it had many sandy areas which would be considered bunkers. Here is a video of what happened from SI.com:
Ashby Jones of the Wall Street Journal wonders whether the penalty fits the crime, since Johnson's mistake gave him no apparent advantage. Jones interviews me for his story, which is excerpted below:
To read the rest, click here. For a couple of good comments from other folks on my Facebook page:
Jordan Ablon: My take is that the PGA did nothing wrong. As bad as the rule may be, it was a rule and he had plenty of notice. He chose not to take 2 minutes to read the rule. It was a MAJOR event and he didn't read the rules of an unusual course.