The U.S. Open proves golf's rule book is a mess

OAKMONT, Pa. — It doesn’t matter that Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open, or that one-shot penalty didn’t end up mattering. What was supposed to be the high-point of America’s National Championship was marred by confusion and anxiety. It truly was an embarrassing moment in golf’s history.

There’s no point re-litigating the catastrophe of events that overshadowed the 116th edition of the tournament, only to note that this was a problem that the USGA had supposedly solved. They even issued a press release about it:

Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address – Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.

This is what happened to Dustin Johnson. He hadn’t even addressed the ball and was “virtually certain” he didn’t make it move but the USGA slammed him with a one-stroke penalty anyway. It was that “when the facts show” line that got him in the end, because for as much…

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