Emiliano Grillo finished his third round Saturday at the RBC Heritage. He signed for a two-under 69 at Harbour Town Golf Links, putting him in Sunday’s second-to-last pairing. A short time later, he logged onto Instagram. A PGA Tour post popped up.
Grillo typed 10 letters.
A ruling about six hours earlier had triggered him. On the 2nd hole, Si Woo Kim putted his ball to within about a tenth of an inch of the hole, he watched over it, and it eventually dropped — after about 55 seconds. The rules, however, allot you just 10, and Kim’s birdie 3 became a par 4 after a penalty.
The incident shone a light on one of golf’s murkier rules. Kim’s playing partner, Matt Kuchar, argued that the ball was still moving, but rules official Stephen Cox said, “in this situation, the rules are modified because you could argue that there comes a point in time that we’ve got to play that golf ball. And that’s why you put that time limit on it.”
Grillo wasn’t alone in his frustration among his fellow pros over it all.
“Does this make sense to anyone else,” Cameron Tringale wrote on the Instagram post, which showed the video of the incident.
“Another horrible @usga rule!” Charley Hoffman wrote.
“Terrible rule, if it wasn’t moving they wouldn’t have waited. No one would’ve. @usga @therandagolf,” David Lingmerth wrote.
Reaction wasn’t limited to the pros, either. Swimmer Michael Phelps weighed in. So did football player Brice Butler. And thousands of others over social media — on Sunday afternoon, the Tour’s Instagram post had over 4,200 comments and 100,000 likes, and its Twitter post had over 300 comments, 600 retweets and 3,700 likes by 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Like the pros, most believed the rule was wrong, though it did have its fans. Below we’ve included a sampling of both views:
From the “Bad rule!” crowd
“Some of these guys spend more time trying to read a putt than they took waiting for the ball to drop. Crappy ruling.” — Brett Norton on the GOLF.com Facebook account
“The ruling really was Trash. What is he supposed to do? Hit a moving ball and take a penalty? Also how does one wait the 10 seconds if the ball never came to rest? If and only when the ball comes to a full rest does the 10 second clock start. Kuchar himself even said he saw it continue to move. What an AWFUL call by the PGA and USGA.” — Dave Tufts on the GOLF.com Facebook page
“Golf is hard enough. Why do we have to think about how to make it more complicated” — Mike Guevara on the GOLF.com Facebook page
“This rule has never made sense to me. Is the ball still moving? Let it keep moving until it stops! If it stops, play it! It’s not like this happens often enough to meaningfully slow down play. This putt should count” — GOLF.com senior writer Dylan Dethier on Twitter
“This is one of those rules that keep people away from wanting to learn golf. Anyone who plays golf regularly knows this is a BS rule” — @curry23_azbeast on the PGA Tour’s Instagram post
From the “Good rule!” crowd
“I’m sure there was 10 seconds in there when it wasn’t moving. Pace of play, can’t wait forever. Tap it in, take your stroke, and move on.” — Erick Schlimmer on the GOLF.com Facebook page
“You could say “it’s still moving” and wait an hour. Hence they picked the 10secs as part of the rule. That’s exactly why it’s in place.” — @mattosnart on the PGA Tour’s Instagram post, in response to Lingmerth.
“Wiggling back and forth for a minute from a breeze is not the same as moving from the momentum of the swing. Horrible precedent set of they let people wait until a breeze comes along to do the work they couldn’t.” — @fiddy1smitty on the PGA Tour’s Instagram post, in response to Lingmerth
“@camtring Yes. Because if you don’t have that rule in theory you could be waiting hours for the putt to drop. Maybe it’s a little harsh but it serves its purpose.” — @jdavey28 on the PGA Tour’s Instagram post, in response to Tringale:
And then there was the conspiracy theory:
“@camtringyes, pro sports are scripted. Not supposed to make sense,” @richierichf24 wrote on the PGA Tour Instagram’s post, in response to Tringale.
A few thought only of Danny Noonan. In the movie Caddyshack, the character played by Michael O’Keefe left a putt on the lip, too, only for it to drop after a lengthy wait. (If you’re among the dozen people who haven’t seen it, we won’t spoil how it fell.)
And what about Kim himself? A commenter on the Golf WRX Instagram page wondered that, too. Last week, after all, Kim snapped his putter on the 15th green at the Masters after some putting frustration. What would we possibly do after this?
“After the putt dropped on, @siwookim_official snapped his putter out of principal,” thefern16 wrote.
“@thefern16 no more snapped club. I’m retired that,” Kim replied.
“I bet on @patperezgolf if I snapped golf club again I have to pay him 100K,” Kim added on an Instagram story post.