The 2017 Turkey Awards: From Donald to DJ, honoring the year’s most dubious achievers

November 20, 2017

Every year, as Thanksgiving approaches, tradition calls for the U.S. president to pardon a turkey. But here at we grant no such reprieves. Instead, we’ve identified the plumpest, juiciest turkeys of the golf world and celebrated their dubious achievements. Here they are, trussed and trimmed: our 2017 Turkey Awards.

The Elk Award for Lamentable Tweets

Winner: Grayson Murray

Playing golf is hard enough without keeping your foot crammed in your mouth. But Murray seems content to multi-task. After a self-imposed (Tour-imposed?) exile from social media (brought about, in part, by a regrettable war of words with European tour players and an icky tweet he sent to a female high school student), the 24-year-old Tour pro returned to Twitter this fall, just in time to make an enemy of himself again with an offending message about the Champions tour. “Does anyone really care is the real question… These guys were relevant 10 plus years ago.” Murray apologized two days later. But how many mulligans does one man get?

The Al Czervik Award for Boorish Mid-Round Behavior

Winner: Donald Trump

The President of the United States owns some of the best and most amazing, totally great, fantastic courses. Layouts so fabulous that he almost gets tired having so many of them. That includes Trump Bedminster, in New Jersey, which might be even more incredibly, unbelievably unbelievable if POTUS hadn’t driven a golf cart across one of its greens while playing, bigly violating basic etiquette. Sad!

The Refusing to Do the Right Thing at All Costs Award

Winner: Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

Never mind that Emily Nash, a high school golfer from Massachusetts, was allowed to enter the qualifying stage of the state tournament, and that she dusted a field of boys in the event. Her score didn’t matter. What mattered is that Nash is a girl, and so was barred by benighted rule from moving on to the state finals. To punctuate the point, the MIAA failed to even give her a trophy. Policy is policy, the MIAA said. Sheesh, really?

The Bugs Bunny “Watch that First Step, Doc, It’s a Doozy” Award for Self-inflicted Injury

Winner: Dustin Johnson

What sounded at first like a cartoonish mishap turned out to be painfully real for the world’s top-ranked golfer and one of its most athletic, whose tumble down a short flight of stairs the day before the Masters sidelined him from the year’s first major at a time when it seemed that no one could beat DJ but DJ himself.

The Dustin Johnson Award for Bizarre Off-Course Injuries

Winner: Henrik Stenson

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No. Wait. It’s Stenson, draped in a cape and dangling from cables as part of a goofy publicity stunt in advance of the WGC-HSBC Champions. Hilarious. But like mom used to say: It’s only fun until someone hurts a rib and pulls out of a tournament.

The Sheriff Joe Arpaio Award for Punishment Exceeding the Crime

Winner: LPGA rules officials

“Is this a joke?” Lexi Thompson asked. Many golf fans wondered the same after Thompson was assessed a four-shot penalty—two for improperly marking her ball, and two more for filing an incorrect scorecard—between the 12th and 13th holes of the final round of the ANA Inspiration, all but scuttling her chances at the title. Granted, Thompson’s initial mark was sloppy. But even messier was the timing of the ruling, which came nearly 24 hours after the initial infraction, prompted by a call-in from a viewer. No, it wasn’t a joke, but it left a lot of people scoffing at the game.

The Phil Mickelson There’s No Shot I Can’t Pull Off Award

Winner: Jason Day

As the third round wound down at the PGA Championship, Day had put himself in the title hunt with three consecutive birdies. Then came a decision that Nick Faldo called “one of the craziest” he had ever seen. From a grim lie in the pine straw wild right of the 18th fairway, blocked by a small forest of trees, Day attempted to hit a sweeping hook that needed to defy every law of physics to even have the slightest chance at success. Sure enough, Day’s ball wound up in shrub. A penalty drop and a few flubs later, Day had carded a crushing quadruple-bogey 8. “I’d love to know what he thought he could really do with that second shot,” Faldo added. All these months later, odds are that Day still doesn’t know himself.

The Heavy Stuff Won’t Be Coming Down for Sometime Award for Forcing Players to Compete in Brutal Conditions

Winner: Organizers of the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open

Neither ran nor sleet nor frigid temperatures will prompt officials to halt play at certain women’s professional golf events. Apparently, dangerous winds and flying signs won’t either. Witness the conditions the women were left to weather during the final round of the New Zealand Open at Windross (yes, that’s the name) Farms Golf Course, where gale-force gusts uprooted signs, turning them into hazardous projectiles. Belen Mozo was one of several LPGA stars irked by what they saw as official disregard for player safety. “LPGA is a tour where players DON’T have a say or a voice,” she tweeted. “Like I say we are ‘like sheep.'” Except that sheep would have had an easier time staying safe and warm.

The Charmin Two-Ply Award for Poor Porta-Potty Training

Winners: Sarah Cho and Kelly Nielsen

When you gotta go, you gotta go. But you also gotta know the rules. That was the hard lesson at the walking-only 2017 NCAA Women’s Championship for Cho of Northwestern and Nielsen of Kent State, both of whom were slapped with two-stroke penalties for taking a cart on a bathroom break. (Here’s hoping they flushed their next shots.)

The Derek Zoolander Mathematics Award for Playoff Organizers Who Don’t Add Two Good

Winner: Schwab Cup Organizers

Even counting on our fingers, we can’t quite figure out how this one worked. Kevin Sutherland won once this season. Bernhard Langer won seven times. But by the calculus of the Schwab Cup scoring system, Sutherland walked off with the playoff title and the $1 million first-place check. It’s either time to revisit the playoff format, or return to elementary school.

The Lexi Thompson Award for Brutally Bad Experiences on the Green

Winner: Matthew Southgate

If a leaf falls from a tree and blows across a green, does anyone notice? They do if they’re Southgate, whose birdie putt on Sunday at the DAP Championship (the third of four Tour Finals events) was knocked off line by a windblown leaf. That was bad. Even worse, though, was what happened next: Rather than replay the shot from its original spot, as the arcane leaf-hits-your-moving-ball rule requires, Southgate tapped in for what he thought was a par. It wasn’t. It was a two-stroke penalty, which Southgate was unaware of when he signed for what turned out to be an incorrect scorecard. Two more penalty strokes. The culmination of a series of unfortunate events that ultimately cost Southgate his PGA Tour card.

The Grandma’s Molasses Award for Painfully Slow Play

Winners: Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Campbell

It had been 22 years since the PGA Tour had meted out a slow-play penalty. But then came Carballo and Campbell, competing as a team at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and…proceeding…so…slowly…that the Tour finally decided to act. That’s a one-stroke penalty, fellas. Now, pick it up.

The Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Award for Turning a Major into a Minor

Winner: Michael Whan

The first round of the Evian Championship was partly in the books, but then it wasn’t, after the LPGA Tour commissioner announced that Thursday’s portion of the year’s final major would be erased. Vanished, just like that, from the historical record. The stated reason was bad weather. But bad weather blights a lot of tournaments, and organizers find ways to work around it. “A major championship is determined over 72 holes,” Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer said. “If you have to stay there for a month, you stay there for a month.” Amen.

The Broken Rolex Award For Punctuality

Winner: Shugo Imahira

There are mental errors, and then there are mental errors, like the one committed by Shugo Imahira, who missed his third-round start at the WGC-HSBC Champions after getting his tee time wrong. Though Imahira was DQ’d for his dereliction of duty, thanks to the WGC’s no-cut format, he still went home with a $43,000 check.

The Double-Oops Award for Improper Disqualification

Winners: Willy Wilcox and PGA Tour rules officials

The first mistake was made by Wilcox, who switched putters during his interrupted second round at the Wells Fargo Championship. That’s a no-no. The second error was committed by tournament officials, who DQ’d Wilcox, only to realize, belatedly, that the proper punishment was a four-stroke penalty. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they do make you look bad.

The Tom Sawyer Award for Negligent Yard Work

Winner: Organizers of the KB Financial Star Championship

If you’re going to host a golf tournament on your course, you should probably cut the grass. But someone didn’t do that properly at Black Stone Golf Club in Incheon, Korea, where players had a tough time distinguishing between the green and fringe on a number of holes. The poor course set-up led to several players improperly marking balls, which led to penalties, which were then rescinded, which prompted other players to threaten to withdraw, which led to all the first-round scores being wiped out. Apologies abounded, and KLPGA rules official Choi Jin-Ha wound up resigning. But she seemed like a scapegoat in a case where there was plenty of blame to go around.

The Land of the Lost Award for Living Among the Dinosaurs

Winner: The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers

Much praise was heaped on Muirfield earlier this year when the club, a 16-time host of the British Open with a famously closed-off membership, finally voted to admit women. So it’s got that going for it. But let’s not forget that the honourable golfers only chose to do the right thing after the R&A removed the club from the Open rota. There’s also this: The waiting list to join is now so long that it will reportedly take another two to three years before the first female member gets to sit down for lunch with the troglodytes.

The Rory Sabbatini Award for On-Course Irritability

Winner: That wild turkey in Canada

It’s rare to give a Turkey Award to a turkey, but this one has to go to the foul-tempered fowl at Elm Ridge Country Club in Quebec, which terrorized golfers almost to the point of trauma. One player was so frightened that he fled down the fairway with the bird nipping at his spikes. “It seemed like it wanted of piece of me,” a shaken Jonathan Lutter Hoppenheim said of the turkey. That’s an inversion of the pecking order we can’t abide, especially not this time of year.