Golf is the only game where we call ourselves on infractions.
Let us not compromise the very essence nor fracture the foundation upon which this game is built.
The lifeblood of our game is honesty(click here to read article) and self-monitoring of the rules.
It is an obligation of the guardians of our game — who promulgate the rules — to make sure that these are not ambiguous.
With a clear understanding of the rules, there is no excuse for violating them without penalty, which in almost every case is self-imposed.
If the guardians are concerned about the use of performance enhancing substances, they should so state in Section I (the Etiquette section) of the Rules of Golf rather than in Appendix I (Conditions of Competition) and rely on the integrity of the golfer to abide by the spirit of the game. The penalty of a serious breach of etiquette may be disqualification.
My proposal is to include in the Etiquette section, the clause; “The use of performance-enhancing substances is a violation of the spirit of the game.”
This clause is clear and only the golfer knows — in the short term– if he/she is in violation.
There is no difference what the ingredients of the substance are – steroids, deer antler spray, alcohol or aspirin – if the substance is used to enhance performance (scientifically proven to be the case or not) then it is a violation.
If players cannot be trusted to abide by the honor and spirit of the game — regarding performance-enhancing substances — how can they be trusted to call other penalties on themselves? How is it possible to need drug testing but not a referee or an umpire to monitor every shot when they play on the course?
Let me share with you a quote from my book From Sticks and Stones
“The minute the governing bodies determine that it is necessary to test for drugs, they have fractured the essence of the game by shifting responsibility for enforcing the rules away from the players and onto a separate party. They undermine the premise on which golf is built, and gain nearly nothing in return.”
Let us know how you feel about drug testing by commenting below.