by Jeff Skinner
Sometimes golfers don’t think straight on the course. How many times have you done something you regret like slamming a club after a bad shot or playing way too fast after you just shanked a chip only to repeat that very same shank?
Well, this is about as dumb a story as I have heard in a long time. It seems that Jose Manuel Lara and his caddie unknowingly started round one of the European Tour’s BMW International Open with an extra club in the bag. Supposedly Lara didn’t know he had the extra club but when his caddie realized the infraction he must of went brain dead.
On the second hole the caddie saw the extra club and then tried to hide it in the woods so Lara could finish the round with the infraction undetected. From the Guardian, “The European Tour chief referee John Paramor said: “His caddie noticed that he had a 15th club and on the second hole he attempted to lose it in a thick bush. He was seen entering the bush with the bag of clubs by his playing partners [Ireland's Damien McGrane and Swede Peter Hedblom], who thought it was a little bit suspicious.
“They went and asked the chap ‘What are you doing?’ and he sort of fumbled out an answer saying ‘I’ve got this wrong – I’ve done something bad. I wish it hadn’t happened, etc etc’.
“It was clear the club was out of the bag and in the bush at the time. He admitted it straight away and regretted his action.”
At that point a rules official assessed Lara, who supposedly had no part in the attempted cover-up, four penalty strokes, two for each hole the first and two for the second. But after his round Paramour and the referee’s panel determined it was such a serious violation that they disqualified Lara and his caddie. The European Tour then also banned the caddie from the tour.
I’ll give Lara the benefit of the doubt that he was unaware of his caddies plan only because how stupid can you be? The caddie heads to the woods while his player’s ball isn’t in that direction. What were the rest of the players and caddies supposed to think? That he’s on a nature hike?
If he had called a rules official straight away his player would have been penalized and allowed to continue. But he panicked. Had they admitted the mistake it would have been seen as just that, a mistake. But when he tried to jettison the extra club it became a true violation of the honor code that all golfers play under. He went from making a mistake to being a cheater and for that he lost his job.
At the same time he may have cast a dark shadow on Lara. Lara may have to work a bit if he expects to regain a reputation as an honest player. A stupid, avoidable situation may have cost two men much more than a few strokes on the card.