Unfairly Left in the Dark at the U.S. Open While Officials Consider a Rule


Dustin Johnson talking with a rules official on the fifth green after acknowledging that his ball had moved but that he had not grounded his club. Johnson, the eventual winner, was issued a penalty.

David Cannon/Getty Images

OAKMONT, Pa. — Because golf is an outdoor sport played on a field of competition that changes from place to place and day to day, its rules are inherently more complex than those of other sports. There are so many factors to weigh, and the golf rule book considers thousands of them, addressing things like what to do if a ball comes to rest on a live snake or a dead snake.

The rule is not the same for both situations.

The motivation behind such meticulous rule-making is to ensure that every competition is equitable and just.

But Sunday, as afternoon was turning into evening and the 116th United States Open was hitting its stride, the country’s national golf championship temporarily lost its sense of evenhandedness. The game’s necessary devotion to the exactness of its rules failed to include a dollop of common sense.

Officials for the United…

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