‘You have to deal with the abnormal’: Pro, official negotiate over rules

David Toms, left, and a rules official on Friday on the 18th hole at Firestone Country Club.


David Toms had to at least try. His tee shot on Friday on the 18th at Firestone had settled underneath a clump of pine tree branches, he couldn’t see his ball standing over it and so he explored his options with a rules official.

What followed during Friday’s second round of the Senior Players Championship was, over a few minutes, engaging, funny, painful and spectacular.  

To begin, Toms first wondered whether he could position himself around one of the branches. At play was Rule 8.1 that tells you to “play the course as you find it,” and Toms wanted to do that, as best he could. 

“Yeah, but what I’m saying is, if I go under here and then I come out, or you see what I’m saying,” Toms said to the official, the conversation picked up by Golf Channel microphones. “Like, I’m going to get …

“You want to do that to get in there?” the official asked. 

“I can do that,” Toms said.  

“You can do that,” the official said. 

Success. Only not really. Though Toms maneuvered himself around a branch and was now close enough to swing at the ball, he still couldn’t see it. 

“That is as close to a normal [stance] as we can get,” the official said. “Sometimes you have to deal with the abnormal so that’s …” 

“What can you do to at least see your golf ball?” Toms said. 

“You’re not necessarily entitled to see it,” the official said. “You can’t break anything or move it.” 

The truth hurt. 

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“Just swing at it and hope you hit it?” Toms said. 

“I’m afraid so, yeah,” the official said.  

“That’s fine,” Toms said.  

Standing nearby, a fan may have summed it all up well. 

“Been there, done that, bro,” he said.  

Resigned to his fate, Toms stepped away, grabbed a club and returned. He moved his head left, then right. Nope, nothing still. 

“I can’t see my ball,” Toms said. 

In the end, that didn’t matter. With a short follow-through, he pitched his ball back to the fairway, and he finished with a bogey five.  

“Oh, success,” analyst Lanny Wadkins said on the Golf Channel broadcast.  

“That was really well done,” analyst Phil Blackmar said.  

And Toms’ final thought?

“Oh, god.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.