On social media, Charley Hoffman is criticizing the rules makers, ostensibly in an attempt to touch a nerve with the PGA Tour.
After Friday’s second round of the WM Phoenix Open, Hoffman took to Instagram to blast the USGA and the Tour, calling it “a farce” that he was fined one stroke after his ball rolled into the water while taking a penalty drop. He went on to criticize the Tour’s treatment of its players and appeared to sympathize with future defections to a planned Saudi-funded league.
The event occurred after Hoffman’s tee ball went into the water on the par-5 13th hole. Hoffman was allowed to place his ball on what he describes as a “little tuff (it’s actually tuft, Chuck) of grass” after dropping twice (both unsuccessfully). Hoffman’s ball, though, drifted down a slope and splashed into the penalty area a few moments later.
While there is no explicit regulation for this, Rule 9.3 stipulates that if natural factors (like as wind or water) cause a player’s ball at rest to travel, the ball must be played from its new location. However, because Hoffman’s ball was now at the bottom of the pond, it was deemed lost, and he was penalized a shot and required to carefully drop another ball, as per Rule 18.2.
Hoffman’s following shot landed left of the green, resulting in a double-bogey 7. He finished with a 1-over 72 and missed the cut by two strokes at 3 under, but he wasn’t pleased with his performance.
As a result, he wrote a lengthy essay in which he chastised the Tour for allowing the USGA – or “amateurs” – to establish the regulations, as well as the rules officials for the “poor penalty area line.” He even mentioned the possibility of a rival league to the Tour, adding that players need “protection,” among other things, otherwise he won’t be surprised if they “jump ship” to the Saudi-backed circuit.
"Hey man… rules." pic.twitter.com/r1xifGvpTX
— Brentley Romine (@BrentleyGC) February 12, 2022
“I had it in my head that the USGA had modified that regulation.” “I was completely wrong,” Hoffman admitted. “Had to accept another another penalty for doing absolutely nothing wrong.” I followed the instructions to the letter. The fact that a group of amateurs controls the professional game of golf is still astounding. I also blame the PGA Tour rules officials for putting out a shoddy penalty area line that allowed this to happen in the first place. There is no accountability at any level in this situation. There is no protection for the players. You might be wondering why guys desire to jump ship and join another tour. Transparency, protection, and consistency are essential for players. Under the existing regulatory authorities, we don’t have that.”
Hoffman, who serves on the Tour’s Player Advisory Council as one of four player directors, then tagged many media sites, including Golf Channel and even the Saudi International account, before saying, “Sorry Jay! At all levels of the PGA Tour, we must improve. I, for one, represent the players on the Tour’s board of directors. If we don’t, the Tour will be canceled! “Hopefully, something will change soon.”
This isn’t the first time a golfer has expressed dissatisfaction with TPC Scottsdale’s rules. Several players spoke out against an unpopular caddie-alignment rule in 2019, just weeks after the USGA handed out its revamped new rules, and the Tour chose to withdraw a penalty it had given Denny McCarthy earlier in the event.
In reality, this isn’t the first time the rule Hoffman is referring to has sparked discussion in Phoenix. Rickie Fowler tripled the par-4 11th hole during the final round of the 2019 WMPO after his drop rolled back into the water.
Only Fowler was unconcerned; he went on to win the event.
Hoffman, on the other hand, has a history of liking the rules. At the RBC Canadian Open five years ago, he was handed a controversial free drop when facing a fried-egg lie in a bunker, causing his playing opponent, Kevin Chappell, to bring out the “generous” rule — Chappell tells Hoffman, “Look at that s***-eating grin on his face.” (Hoffman then went on to make a bad shot and lose in a playoff.)
“Hey dude… rules,” Hoffman famously said to Chappell that day.
Shortly after Friday’s Instagram picture sparked outrage, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau weighed in with remarks defending Hoffman.
Mickelson wrote, “I feel ya.”
“I absolutely agree,” DeChambeau added.
Others, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic by Hoffman’s drive-by criticism. Blayne Barber, a former Tour player who made the ultimate comeback, wrote on Instagram:
“Don’t drop it in the water,” says the narrator.