How WASPs are bashed

Sloppy USGA shouldn’t escape the mess it created
by Sally Jenkins (sports columnist)
Washington Post Opinion, 2016-06-20


For a while, Dustin Johnson’s fate in the U.S. Open appeared to rest in the hands of those USGA officials with three names and a numeral, the crested blazer types who order up another “martooni” in the grillroom. You could just imagine the conversation when C. Stillborn Drunklord IV and the rest of the rules committee decided to “review” less than a fraction of a millimeter of ball movement and give Johnson a potentially life-altering, soul-stomping penalty for it.

“Doonie, better hold off on that martooni. We have to look at the videotape to see if Dustin Johnson violated rule 1-2B4HQ subsection 13ADFQZ, when he used the old flat-stick at the fifth hole.”

“All right, Budge. I’ll just have a spritzer.”

It was the record for unfair, and also for silly. The flutter of an eyelash caused more disturbance than Johnson’s ball registered on that fifth green at Oakmont Country Club. Yet the USGA’s pompous amateurs with their cocktail shakers and prep school nicknames turned it into a nuclear incident, a toxic spill that could’ve, let’s be honest, damaged Johnson’s career not to mention his psyche for the duration. Suggestion: In the future, U.S. Open rulings should be in the hands of a sober-minded professional.

The USGA took seven holes of harrumphing and pipe-tamping to even inform Johnson that he had, in their view, potentially committed an offense so grave it was worth a one-stroke penalty. He was on the 12th tee when he finally learned of it. But first, you see, a four-man committee would have to meet and “review.” Which meant that Johnson had to play the remaining crucial holes not knowing what his score really was.

What were they waiting for? Presumably they had to have lunch first, and then discuss subsection I-VI-5-ABZ-25911934, governing whether a committee member may step out of the room to order another veal chop. There also may have been some informal discussion as to whether anyone serves a true Madeira anymore.

Obviously, the unfairness of the situation didn’t penetrate their fog of self-importance.

We can all agree that a rule is a rule. We can also agree that golf’s honor code is an ancient glory that should be protected and preserved. But surely we can also share outrage, expressed by every major professional golfer with a Twitter account, at the USGA’s blundering mismanagement of the rulebook. It was a far worse offense than any a player might have committed.

If a rule is a rule, then the USGA was obliged to accept the ruling of the official who was with Johnson at the par-4 fifth that there was no penalty. The much more likely explanation for ball movement was a slick-shaved green and gravity. And if an honor code means anything, then the USGA was obliged to accept Johnson’s word that he did nothing to cause it. When they didn’t, they called him a liar. They also disrupted the tournament for every single player in the field. Was it coincidence that after the USGA’s blustering interjection, Johnson’s main pursuers, Shane Lowry and Sergio Garcia, began to come apart?


The USGA’s fair application of an over-inflated rulebook depends entirely on whether they’re lucky enough to have some sensible member on the rules committee. The rulebook should be reduced, and they should seek out an expert administrator, a paid professional, to apply them at the Open. A player’s livelihood and legacy shouldn’t depend on a pack of dilettantes with the judgment of a soused house party.

[I have no idea whether the committee that made that decision was right or wrong in their actions.
Perhaps they were overly strict in their interpretation of the rules.
Or perhaps they had some other situation in mind, and were aware of the precedents that had been set in the past,
and how they had to stick to those precedents to avoid other complaints of unfairness.
I just don't know, and frankly don't really care.
But what I do care about is the basis, if one can call it that,
for Sally Jenkins attack on their competence and sobriety.
"C. Stillborn Drunklord IV"?
Just what was the justification for that, Sally?
Do you have a problem with people with roman numerals in their names?
And do you have a specific reason for believing that
the officials on duty who made that decision
were under the influence at the time they made it?
To make such a blunderbuss charge without specifics to back it up
risks putting you in a class with your fellow "journalist" Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

I won't deny that many people who play a round of golf
retire to the clubhouse afterwards for some drinks,
perhaps enough to intoxicate them.
They enjoy both golf and socializing (with drinks).
But my perhaps naive assumption is that the USGA officials
would have enough sense of responsibility and duty,
to their sport, to the golfers, and to the general public,
to keep sober while they were on duty.
If that was not the case in this specific case,
how about something more specific than resorting to the stereotype of the drunk WASP aristocrat.
As for me, my stereotypes of the WASP aristocrat are Theodore Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush,
two gentlemen who exuded in their lives that sense of responsibility and duty
which was a part of the upbringing of many of the WASP upper-class youth
at their spartan and strict private schools,
where duty, honor, country were the ideals.
But maybe Sally doesn't know about that.

(By the way, for an example of resentment at WASPs, see Portnoy's Complaint
(an aspect of the novel that Wikipedia somehow manages to avoid mentioning).)]

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