There are few worse sights in golf than turning up to see the greens having just been aerated. Worse still, when you're at local qualifying for the US Open.
Last week college player Tommy Kuhl was playing at Illini Country Club in Illinois when he had the round of his life, a course-record 62 which saw him top the qualifying and move on to Final Qualifying for the USGA's showpiece at Los Angeles Country Club.
But then came the bad news which only transpired after he went out to watch the play-off as one of his team-mates was battling for the last of five spots. Another team-mate, also watching the extra holes, mentioned how hard it was to putt on the aerated greens which is when that bad news hit Kuhl.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” Kuhl told Monday Q. "I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t tell the rules official."
Kuhl had spent his day repairing the aeration marks which is not allowed. Rule 13.1c(2) was amended to allow the repair of 'almost any damage on the green' which includes pitchmarks, spike marks, animal damage but not aeration marks.
"I should know better. It comes down to me. I should know that rule," Kuhl added.
A rules official, Todd Bailey, explained that had a local rule been in place then Kuhl would have been in the clear but, sadly, there wasn't.
Following Kuhl's DQ a number of players admitted that they had done the same given that they will unlikely play on aerated greens very often but none of them had troubled the scorers.
There will be one University of Illinois player at Final Qualifying as, given Kuhl was disqualified, his team-mate Adrien Dumont De Chassart didn't need the extra holes as it freed up a spot.
The silver lining in the story is that Kuhl's Illinois teammate Adrien Dumont De Chassart made it through. Having lost the play-off the Belgian was then told by Kuhl his good/bad news.
“You’re in, dude,” Kuhl told him. “I disqualified myself.”
Kuhl told the Golf Channel later in the week that it was a no-brainer of a decision.
“I grew up with a high standard and I just wouldn’t have felt good about myself had I not said anything. It’s one US Open qualifier; I’ll have plenty more in the future. It was just the right thing to do. It’s the rules of the game. And I tell people, it’s all on me. It’s not the tournament director’s fault, or the people running the tournament, or the course, or the superintendent.
"It's all on me. I should know the rules of golf. Yeah, the rules are pretty silly at times, but I should know the rules. This is what I’m going to be doing for a living, so I can’t put anything on anyone else but myself. I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining. This falls on me. That’s all it is.
“I’ve been his (de Chassart's) Uber driver for last five years because he doesn’t have a car, so we drove to Springfield together. And on the way back, I joked with him, ‘When you make the US Open, you better buy me a nice dinner afterward.’”