By Fergus Bisset published
Golf is a complicated and unpredictable game. No two rounds will ever be quite the same and there are myriad scenarios possible out on the course.
There are always going to be rules disputes and misunderstandings over situations that arise. We’ve seen a few of those this year. It’s also a game where emotions can run high and that can cause the odd outburst or flare up that splits opinion. Those in charge of the sport have to make tough decisions on a regular basis to insure the game continues on the right track and in the right spirit. Here we look at some of the biggest golfing controversies that took place in 2021.
Patrick Reed doesn’t seem to be able to get through a year without some sort of controversy. In January, he was awarded a free drop from a plugged lie at the Farmers Insurance Open which was questioned by some even though rules officials confirmed it had been done by the book.
Bryson’s power driving split opinion early in the season as he took on a huge carry at the Arnold Palmer invitational. He continued to push boundaries all season, including a 417 yard monster drive at the Ryder Cup. Some may say it’s not good for the game, but our view is that Bryson’s Bombs are Box Office gold!
Sticking with long driving and power hitting, the governing bodies decided to take action. The R&A and USGA introduced a new local rule, to come into force 1st January that will allow tournaments to limit the maximum club shaft length (excluding putters) to 46 inches. Some, including Phil Mickelson, were critical of the move.
Later in the year, another restriction on the pro game caused controversy. From 2022, players on the PGA Tour will not be able to use the highly detailed green-reading books in their current guise.
The rollout of the World Handicap System was not without controversy and there have been a number of talking points through its first full year. One thing that’s for sure is that, for it to work most effectively, more players in this country need to embrace the idea of the general play score.
In the Solheim Cup, there was controversy over an incident involving Madelene Sagstrom – she picked up a ball “overhanging” the hole… or was it? … within the 10 seconds a player has to see if a ball will fall in.
On the PGA Tour, there was a controversial decision on PGA Tour player of the year – FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay got the nod ahead of U.S. Open champ and World Number 1 Jon Rahm.
Bryson was in the news again – accused of not shouting Fore.
The Olympics were a great success but there were still some players who decided to skip it for various reasons – We took a look at those who missed out.
Slow play continues to be a controversial issue in top level golf and when John Catlin received a penalty of one stroke for slow play in the USPGA Championship, it seemed something of a token gesture – Would one of the big name stars have received such a penalty?
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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