With the recent accusations of mass drug taking being thrown about  in the world of athletics, which has even spread to the London Marathon, it does lend the question as to why golf doesn’t comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency Standards (WADA)? What have the sport’s governing bodies and tours got to be afraid of?

Random Olympic tests

International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, attacked the PGA for a lack of transparency in anti- doping policy, and insisted that golfers competing in the Olympics will have to be WADA compliant. In response, golf did its usual ‘uncomfortable-foot-shuffling-staring-at-the-floor-and-hoping-the-nasty-interfering-people-would-go-away-and-kindly-mind-their-own-business-this-is-golf!’ act.

What Peter Dawson said

Peter Dawson, the outgoing chief executive of the R&A, said during the last Open at St. Andrews that golf could not be complacent regarding anti-doping but refused to reveal how many tests would be taking place at The Open. “I would certainly urge that golf moves towards being WADA compliant at all times and right across the world, and I think the game of golf is working towards that,” said Dawson. “That said, it’s still my belief that we don’t have a major drug problem of any kind in the game of golf, but we certainly can’t afford to be complacent.”

What Gary Player said

While the R&A and the PGA might pussy foot around the subject, a legend of the game is not so shy. Gary Player recently claimed that he personally knows that golfers are using drugs. Cocaine might go on behind closed doors and so what? The problem is, apparently, steroid abuse.

“Whether it’s HGH, whether it’s creatine or whether it’s steroids, I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it,” Player said.

Asked how he knew for certain, he said one golfer told him.

“I took an oath prior to him telling me — I won’t tell you where — but he told me what he did, and I could see this massive change in him,” Player said. “And somebody else told me something, that I also promised I wouldn’t tell, that verified others had done it.”

The cryptic accusation put the Royal & Ancient Golf Club on the defensive over why it did not have drug testing at the recent Open, with Peter Dawson being asked whether he was concerned that its winner could be using steroids.

Dawson said, “One thing I do know is that we’re not drug testing here at the Open championship this week, so just how that would be identified, I’m not sure.”

MY OPINION

It’s pretty reserved stuff from the R&A and PGA as usual, but let’s look at the reality. Not so long ago a top ten golfer failed his third drug test in five years, including two for cocaine. If Dustin Johnson had won the Open, what were we supposed to do? Applaud a great athlete for overcoming unfortunate circumstances, or turn our backs on the sport for having buried its head in the sand in the face of the kind of issues that get other sports stars lengthy, if not lifetime bans? We certainly got no guidance from the R&A or the PGA as to what ‘golf’ thought of such matters.

How can we take golf bosses like Peter Dawson or Tim Finchem seriously when they lock themselves in back rooms, slap each other on the back and brush anything unpleasant under the carpet – after all, there’s money to be made from the top golf stars. Let the baby have its bottle, no one will ever know!

Compared to other sports’ governing bodies, this comes across as pretty spineless stuff. The R&A and the PGA clearly don’t need the aggravation of acknowledging the fact that their charges are as normal and susceptible to ‘mistakes’ as any other sport’s stars (love that word – like  ‘I mistakenly injected myself with drugs instead of not injecting myself with drugs’).

And all this at a time when other governing bodies – cycling, athletics etc – are perpetually cleaning up the road kill of drug-related incidents they are forced to make public in their sports. Golf has to man up.

Maybe golf doesn’t have a big problem. But that’s the problem isn’t it? The likes of Finchem and Dawson can interpret what ‘big’ really means any way they like. You can’t make the level of intent/impact of the use of drugs in sport subjective. Either you took the drugs or you didn’t. It can’t be one rule for golf and one for everyone else.

Personally, I couldn’t give a proverbial if Dustin Johnson was snorting his way from Columbia to Bolivia, as the destruction of his Septum is his own concern, and liberal use of cocaine is hardly going to help his game. What he does in private is none of my business and hardly unusual for a wealthy young man in his 20s, surrounded by fixers, well-wishers, hangers-on and partying types. If anything, it made a lot of people think golfers weren’t quite as banal as they thought.

The problem is that, if it was any other sport, football for example, he would have been pilloried and banned. Golf has scrupulously cultivated the same code of silence with which it once helped to cover up Tiger’s cocktail waitress plundering. When Johnson failed to defend his title at the World Golf Championship in Shanghai last November, following all the hullabaloo about his ‘off-course issues’, you couldn’t get a word out of anyone from the PGA about where he was and why he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. .

Only three players have been suspended under the anti-doping policy. The most recent was Scott Stallings, who told the tour he was unaware that an over-the-counter drug he was taking was on the banned substance list. Stalling received a three-month suspension. The other two (Bhavik Patel and Doug Barron) were out for one year. The tour did not explain the difference.

Clear as mud. Just the way they like it.

PLUCK OF THE IRISH

Shane Lowry of Ireland fired a final round of 66 to secure the biggest win of his career at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC in Ohio.

The Irishman played an error-free round on Sunday to catch and pass overnight leaders Jim Furyk and Justin Rose. With the victory, Lowry has moved into the top-20 on the Official World Golf Ranking and to fourth place on the 2015 Race to Dubai.

In an invitational event featuring the best players in world golf, this could be a life-changing victory for the young Irishman.

“To shoot 11 under par on this golf course just shows a lot about my game, that it is good enough to compete at any level.”

Lowry began the final round two shots behind 54-hole leaders Justin Rose and Jim Furyk but he erased that deficit with two birdies in his first eight holes. When he birdied the 10th, he took a two shot lead over the pack as both Furyk and Rose had stumbled.

In the end it was Bubba Watson who pushed Lowry closest and got within one with a birdie on the 17th. But the Irishman held firm and he finished with a birdie on the home hole to take the title by two shots with Watson alone in second. It was a pretty incredible closing birdie for Lowry as he fired his approach to the 18th through a tree and stopped his ball just 10 feet from the cup. Lowry now went into the USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin (which of course started yesterday), full of confidence that he can compete with, and beat, the top players in the world.

 

KNOW YOUR RULES

QUESTION

In playing a chip shot, a player’s club strikes the ground several inches behind the ball and does not come into contact with the ball. However, the ground is struck with enough force to cause the ball to move. The player’s club continues and strikes the ball while it is moving. What is the ruling?

A: Player replaces the ball and plays the shot gain.

B: The player counts his stroke and adds a penalty stoke.

C: Player only counts the stroke when the club hits the ball

ANSWER

B: The player must count his stroke and add a penalty stroke under Rule 14-4.

Even though the club itself did not initially strike the ball, the ball was put into motion due to the stroke;

 

TITTER ON THE TEE

During a lady’s medical examination, the doctor says: – “Your heart, lungs, pulse and blood pressure are all fine. Now let me see the bit that gets you ladies into all kinds of trouble.”

The lady starts taking off her underwear but is interrupted by the doctor.

“No! No! Don’t remove your clothes… Just stick out your tongue!”