OMG, I’m watching the coverage of the latest Patrick Reed cheating incident in disbelief. I’m not surprised Reed cheated – he’s cheated so many times I’ve come to expect it. But the professional commentating about it is pitiful.

For non-golfer readers, a player gets relief (is allowed to move their ball to a better position) if their ball plugs in its own pitch mark – in other words, slams into the ground and sticks right there, embedded into a cavity caused by its own landing.  At one time, this rule only covered areas of closely mown grass (fairways and greens), but about twenty years ago, it was extended to include the rough – and that’s where Reed’s ball was.

In determining if a ball is plugged in its own pitch mark in the rough, a key question is whether the ball bounced. On a super-soft fairway or green, there’s a remote chance that a ball could first bounce, then plug.  But in the rough?  In heavy grass? No way – and everybody knows it. So, for Reed to be able to claim his ball plugged in the rough, he first had to make sure that no one saw it bounce.

Given this, Reed asked some bystanders if anyone saw his ball bounce. When no one said they did, that was his cue……let the cheating begin!

Most stories are told in chronological order, but I’m going to give you the punch line now: after Reed examined his ball, determined that it was plugged in its own pitch mark, and took relief, a video surfaced that revealed his ball did, in fact, bounce before landing in the heavy grass. I know you didn’t click on this story to read about Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity, and, in particular, Newton’s law that an object’s velocity as it crashes into the earth is directly related to the height from which it fell.  But suffice it to say that Newton would be rolling over in his grave if Patrick Reed’s ball plugged in its own pitch mark, through heavy grass, having fallen from the grand distance of… about a foot.

So, why are the professional commentators using terms like “unlikely to plug after a bounce” and “doesn’t usually plug after it bounces”? Nick Faldo at least used the term “gray area,” but another commentator tried to defend Reed by saying he’s “a victim of his own reputation.” Of course he is – it’s a reputation he deserves!  He’s a bona fide, 100%, true blue cheater.  He even smirks when he’s asked about it. Everyone knows he cheats – including him!  Remember this video?

As soon as the video showing his ball bouncing surfaced, the story should have changed from “did Patrick Reed’s ball really embed?” to “Patrick Reed cheated again!”  But the professional commentators are too afraid of public backlash to call Patrick Reed what he is. I’m not afraid. Patrick Reed is a cheater. He has no scruples, he has no honor, he’s just a bad dude.  And he’s especially bad for golf – a sport that prides itself on honor.

Some final thoughts on this situation:

  1. Karma. While I absolutely hate that Reed ended up winning the tournament, he did so by 5 strokes, so in the end, his cheating not only didn’t help him, it hurt him.  I can take some solace that instead of just getting the glory of winning, his win is mired in controversy.
  2. The embedded ball rule should revert back to cover only closely mown areas, because in a closely mown area it’s clear if a ball is embedded in its own pitch mark or not. And if my golf ball winds up in its own pitch mark in the rough, I deserve what I get for being in the rough in the first place.
  3. The PGA needs to penalize Patrick Reed for cheating. He keeps cheating because he never gets punished for it.  This isn’t rocket science, folks. He’s like the 8-year-old who says he missed school because his grandfather died. How many grandfathers does Patrick Reed have?