Golf Tee and Ball

At the Class A-Private golf state championships in Columbus in late May – after the first of two days - there was a rule discrepancy going on under the tent. A golfer from Darlington had his score written down wrong by his opponent. Keep in mind, Darlington at the time was tied for first, one of the few teams ahead of Holy Innocents’.

It seemed the golfer had birdied a par-5 hole, though the opponent had made an honest mistake in writing down a 3, which would’ve made it an eagle. The boy from Darlington, while still in the tent, caught the mistake and went to change it.

Unfortunately, the rules official stated the boy was disqualified, as the scorecard had already been signed and attested.

But wait…hold the phone!

Two golfers from Holy Innocents’, seniors Jeffrey Klopfenstein and Graham Kennedy, argued that he should not be disqualified. After all, since he changed his score before leaving the tent and was still at the scorer’s table, then all should be fine. He should be good to go.

Graham took it a step further. He pulled out the official United States Golf Association rule book and showed it to the official. Now it wasn’t one word against another, it was there — in writing — the rule.

Neither Jeffrey nor Graham left the tent, held true to what they knew was right even though Darlington was in the way of the Bears taking their second straight title. So there they sat — two golfers, one opponent, one tournament official and one rule book. 

Fortunately, and to his credit, the official did not remain stubborn just to keep from being proven wrong. Many times and perhaps too often that happens. Instead, he conceded to the rule book. Our boys were right. The kid should not have been disqualified. 

And he wasn’t.

Okay, this tale doesn’t have the full “story-book” ending. The Holy Innocents’ kids did not win their second straight state championship; they ended up tied for second, two strokes off the pace. Darlington didn’t take the crown either, Heritage did. Still, Golden Bears coach Jason Rutledge perhaps summed it up best: “This is a case where integrity was put ahead of winning.”

As it should be. 

In summary, many try to “bend” the rules, spin them in their favor, particularly in the heat of battle. Often, the desire to wear the state championship ring gets in the way of morals and good sense. Cheers to the two golfers from Holy Innocents’, who not only knew and brought the rule forward, but remained until the right thing was done.

The bottom line — and maybe this is a little sad— sometimes there are aces that aren’t recorded on the scorecards. Still, good for those two boys, good for them. What they did is a hole-in-one in any and every rule book.

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