Golf Goes After Its Bogey Man

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson at the 2018 US Open. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- If you didn’t know that he was a golfer armed only with a wayward putter and inadequate self-control, you might think Phil Mickelson had committed some kind of actual crime this weekend at the US Open.

The Boston Globe called Mickelson’s behavior “an unforgivable rule breach and an unimaginable mistake, swallowing America’s national championship whole.”

Wow! You mean, like the lava in Hawaii?

But as every sports fan and likely many confused non-fans already know, Mickelson didn’t attack someone with a fireplace poker, spray paint the greens with vicious anti-golf graffiti, or even take a real bite out of the tournament, let alone swallow it whole.

After missing a putt on a steeply-sloped green, he ran after his ball and, while it was still rolling, hit it back towards the hole.

Make no mistake, this is not allowed under the rules of golf. Mickelson was penalized, and grudgingly apologized.

But in a game with the most complex and at times arcane rules of any sport and a heavy reliance on the honor system, it’s clear from the outraged reaction that in golf, manners and truth really matter.

And that’s a good thing.

Manners are how we keep our rougher impulses in check.

Truth is how we acknowledge common standards and experience, and ward off the evil of propaganda.

It’s nice to see how those things are still valued--in golf, at least.

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