Rules of Golf row: Academy in DQ storm call for change

Steve Carroll chatted to Nick Huby, the academy manager involved in a social media storm after a youngster’s much-publicised disqualification, about what needs to change

The Rules of Golf need to “get in line with the modern world” else the sport risks haemorrhaging players, says the academy at the centre of a row over a youngster’s disqualification from a junior event.

Nick Huby, academy manager at Pete Cowen Golf, reckons if you outlined the circumstances of one player’s ejection from the Yorkshire Boys’ Championship to 1,000 people on the high street, none of them would believe it.

The player, a junior, was DQ’d after a tyre blew on his parents’ car as they travelled to the event at Scarcroft and he turned up 15 minutes late for his tee time.

The Rules of Golf – Rule 5.3a specifically – gave Yorkshire Union officials little room for manoeuvre and a subsequent tweet from Cowen’s Rotherham-based academy set off a social media storm.

Huby stressed he understood the position Union rules chiefs were in when they denied the teenager a chance to play.

But he argued the rule itself needed tweaking after an incident that had been “bad PR for golf”.

“We believe it is junior golf, it’s about encouragement, involvement and participation,” he told NCG. “We are trying to ensure as many kids get the opportunity. We’re all for memory building – because kids aren’t kids for long.

“If the rules don’t change, and this is not a rant or a dig at the Union, and become a little bit more in line with the modern world then we’re eventually going to lose the game.

“Participation is down. There are fewer people playing golf. Yes, there are many great people and voluntary organisations helping in small ways as they can.

“But things like this are bad PR for golf and I just feel passionate that there has to be a logical common sense element to a lot of the rules which, sadly in golf, there aren’t.”

Huby added that Pete Cowen himself was aware of the controversy and, working with Henrik Stenson ahead of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, both had expressed the view that the rule as it stood was “ridiculous”.

“Of course, there have to be rules,” Huby continued. “I respect people who say you can’t have junior rules – but you can and you have to.

“You have to treat kids in a decent and honourable way. As adults, we are trying to teach and encourage them and get as many kids playing golf as possible.

“Certain rules, and certain regulations, at golf clubs definitely put kids off. I do research on this, I speak to kids and parents – people who got told off because their shirt wasn’t tucked in or their brother came to pick them up in jeans and he got shouted out.

“This rule really needs relaxing. If you asked 1,000 people on the high street, who don’t play golf and who don’t know the ins and outs of club mentality, and sold them the idea that a boy was on his way to a tournament, his parents’ car broke down, and he was disqualified when he got there – when in reality he could have just teed off later – they wouldn’t believe it.

“They would never dream ‘he’s got to be there for that exact time’, when he could just fit in the pack later.

“Imagine the same thing happened taking a child to school. The class starts at 9am, but the car breaks down en route, and they say, ‘No, you can’t come in, you’re late.’ It just wouldn’t happen.”

What do you think? Do you agree with the Pete Cowen Academy? Is it about time this Rule was changed, or is it just fine as it is? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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