September 03, 2010
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Golf is a game of rules both obvious and arcane, and if you're going to play the game, you have to play by its rules. No matter what the cost.
Today, a classic "what would you do?" moment. Zach Nash is a 14-year-old Wisconsin kid who happens to be a fine golfer. So good, in fact, that he won a junior Wisconsin PGA tournament.
Problem was, he won it by violating -- albeit unintentionally -- one of golf's most straightforward rules. He had too many clubs in his bag. And the worst part? It was a total accident, discovered long after the fact.
Specifics: Nash's 77 won the boys' 13-14 division at the Milwaukee County Parks Tour Invitational, knocking off 31 other players. Afterward, Nash went to celebrate with one of his mentors, Chris Wood, head club pro at Rivermoor Golf Club. And that's where the troubles began.
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Wood noticed an extra club in Nash's bag and pointed it out to him. Apparently, a friend of Nash's had left the club at his house, and Nash put it in his bag, not realizing it put him one over the mandatory limit of 14 clubs. Carrying an extra club is a two-stroke penalty per hole, but since Nash didn't account for those extra strokes, he signed what was, in effect, an incorrect scorecard, and thus would be disqualified from the tournament.
And from there, there really wasn't any choice. Nash called the Wisconsin PGA, explained what had happened, and sent back the medal from the tournament. WPGA officials plan to present it to the tournament's runner-up.
Now, it's easy to go and tee off -- pun very much intended -- on golf's drop-the-hammer rules, on Wood for bringing the extra club to Nash's attention, or to Nash himself for failing to count the club. But all that misses the point. This is a story about honesty and doing what's right, even when what's right makes zero logical sense. Sure, Nash could have rationalized away keeping an extra club, but where's the honor in that?
Congrats to Nash for standing up and doing the right thing, no matter what the cost. And hopefully there are much bigger medals waiting for him down the line.
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