Tiger Woods may not have realized his drop on the 15th hole would cost him a couple strokes and a better shot at a 15th major championship at this past weekend's Masters, but plenty of high school golfers from New York City did.
Catholic High School Athletic Association golf coaches ingrain United States Golf Association rules in their players from an early age, so when Woods illegally dropped his ball 2 yards from where he should've, their charges took note.
“If we didn’t know the rules, we shouldn’t be out here in the first place, to be honest,” St. Francis (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) Prep junior Jacob Virginia told the New York Daily News in a feature story on the issue. “Tiger, he just messed up the rule.”
Added Terriers senior teammate Brian McGowan: “In that situation, you have to play the ball from where it was. You can’t go as far as he did away from the spot.”
Woods wasn't the only supposed golf expert who failed to grasp the complicated ruling. Masters officials also missed the original error, and it wasn't until a viewer called in the violation to Augusta National Golf Club that the Rules Committee revisited the issue.
Maybe one of Archbishop Molloy (New York, N.Y.) High boys golf coach and CHSAA golf chairman Bill Niklaus' players made that phone call.
“The kids said, ‘We spotted it, but why didn’t the marshals?’” Niklaus told the Daily News. “In their minds, they were thrown off by, ‘Is it favoritism?’”
Even a middle school kid should've known what Woods didn't, Niklaus said.
“We tell the kids in eighth grade: When you come into high school, we don’t have time to teach you (the rules). You have to know the basics,” Niklaus added. “When you come in, it is full USGA rules, plus the local rules in CHSAA. When you put it all together, we’re bound by (many) rules. I’ve had kids call rules that average golfers would go, ‘Huh?’ But it’s real. They’re not just learning the basics. They have to play real golf.”
Real golf. Not that fake stuff Tiger Woods apparently was playing over the weekend.