Fort Worth, TX — It was a hot, sunny day at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. One of the highlights was sitting in on a press conference with PGA legend Tom Lehman. Although Lehman, 52, spends more time on the Champions Tour these days, he chose to play in this PGA event mostly because two of his daughters are taking summer classes at TCU (just a stone’s throw from Colonial Country Club).
It was a perfect opportunity to get in some research for a forthcoming book about the lessons we can learn about integrity from the game of golf. Here’s what Lehman had to share on the topic:
Bonham: Tom, a few weeks ago Webb Simpson showed a lot of class when he lost a stroke in the New Orleans Classic after self-reporting that his ball had moved (Read that story here). Integrity is a big part of the game. From your perspective as a guy who’s been through it and tried to live with integrity, why is it important for young guys like him to display that kind of respect for the game?
Lehman: Two comments. First of all, the integrity, to me, that’s what separates golf from other sports. Other sports they’re not required to call penalties on themselves. In golf, you aren’t either. But it’s been part of the tradition of the game to, when you break a rule, and nobody has seen it, that you need to be man enough to do that. When you see Webb do that, and I think it was Brian Davis, a couple of years ago at Hilton Head when his club touched the grass, calling penalties on yourself, when you’re in such a position where it could cost him a tournament just shows the class of the individual, the integrity, the character. And also the beauty of golf.
Now with that said, that rule, where the wind blows your ball, is a terrible rule. I felt like watching Padraig Harringtonget penalized at Augusta a few years ago when the wind gusted and blew his ball after he already backed away. It’s time to change that rule, when it’s obvious to everyone that the wind is the cause of the ball moving. You shouldn’t penalize the player.
So I just feel like that rule needs to go. It needs to be amended. When it can be proven obviously by video replay, or whatever, that the wind has caused the ball to move, the player is not penalized. Webb paid the penalty. But you know what, I think in the end, when you do that, what goes around, comes around. He will be rewarded in some way. Something is going to happen throughout the course of his career, where you’re going to say that was a turning point, playing by the rules and making the right decision and it’s benefited me for the rest of my life.
Tomorrow we’ll have more comments from various participants at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.