‘Total rookie move’: Pro runs out of balls, finishes round with different group

Rick Garboski in 2018

Rick Garboski, pictured in 2018, had a wild second round on the PGA Tour Champions on Saturday.

getty images

After 761 PGA Tour starts and another 236 appearances on the PGA Tour Champions, 61-year-old Mark Calcavecchia has seen some stuff.
But on Saturday, during the second round of the senior circuit’s Hoag Classic, at Newport Beach (Calif.) CC, Calcavecchia said he witnessed something he’d never seen in his more than four decades in professional golf.
“Rick Groboski (sic) ran out of balls,” Calc tweeted on Saturday evening, referring to one of his two playing partners, Rick Garboski. “Only had 3. Thought he had 6. Anyways after 2 balls in the drink on 4 had to borrow a ball. 2 shot penalty. Then had to drop back a group to wait for locker room guy to bring.”

Calc followed that post with another tweet: “More balls. Then got 2 more shot penalty for delay of game. Lol. Felt bad for him but it was kinda funny.”

Garboski confirmed the episode, replying to Calc’s tweet with: “Can’t argue – it’s freaking hilarious. Total rookie move on my part. Bad combo of trying to keep a light bag – along with giving too many balls away to kids along the way. No such thing as bad publicity, right?”

If your head is spinning from Calc’s explanation, ours was, too. Wild incident. Here’s a more detailed recounting of what happened:
Garboski arrived at Newport Beach’s watery par-3 4th, his 13th hole of the day, at one over for the round and six over for the tournament. After splashing his tee shot, he took a drop in the penalty area, from where he dunked another ball that he was unable to retrieve.
At this point, according to a statement the tour’s rules committee shared with GOLF.com, Garboski “realized that he had no more balls of the same brand and model as used at the start of his round to satisfy the One Ball Rule that was in effect. Garboski asked for a ruling and acquired another brand/model of ball to complete the 4th hole. The Rules Official clarified that Garboski would receive the general penalty for a breach of the One Ball Rule during play of the 4th hole and needed to play the brand/model of ball used at the start of his round from the next teeing area to avoid being disqualified. Garboski had balls of the same brand/model available off the course and they were immediately brought to him while he completed the 4th hole.”
A rules official delivered the balls to Garboski.

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The statement continues: “Unfortunately, Garboski had to unreasonably delay play from the 5th tee for a short period of time while the balls arrived and was assessed a further one stroke penalty under Rule 5.6a. Rather than delay the other two players in Garboski’s original group, a Rules Official gave approval for him to wait for and then join the group of two players playing immediately behind him to complete the remainder of the round.”
Garboski ultimately made a sextuple-bogey 9 on the 4th. He followed that with a double on the ensuing par-4 — you can’t blame the guy if he was rattled — then parred home for a nine-over 80.

Before Sunday’s final round, Garboski told a Tour reporter: “It’s an unfortunate error, and I’m going to laugh about it. I’m just so thankful that the Tour officials here figured out a way for me to actually finish. I didn’t mind the penalties, because I just wanted to be able to play today.” In the final round, he shot a 74 to finish at 17 over for the week in 76th place.
Pros don’t often run out of balls, but it does happen. In the third round of the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open, Englishman Eddie Pepperell deposited a handful of balls into a water hazard on his 13th hole of the day. Or one too many balls, as it turned out. When Pepperell realized that he had expended his supply, he disqualified himself for “failure to complete a hole.”
On Sunday afternoon, Pepperell had the perfect three-word reply to Calc’s tweet, a self-deprecating response to which Garboski surely could relate: “What an idiot….”

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.