An amateur golfer experienced maybe his worst nightmare earlier this week at a local US Open qualifying venue. Tommy Kuhl, a fifth-year senior at Illinois, played an unbelievable round before it all fell apart.
His dream of playing in the US Open seemed to be one step closer after the performance of a lifetime but it would soon be snatched away due to a rule he was unfamiliar with.
Kuhl was one of a number of golfers participating at Illini Country Club on Monday in hopes of earning a spot in the upcoming US Open. And he appeared well on his way after setting a course record.
Kuhl posted an incredible score of 62 to win the event.
Making it more impressive, he was playing on aerated greens.
Aeration is the process by which holes are punched into the greens to allow air to reach the soil beneath. It’s a way of loosening soil, improving drainage, and promoting root growth in order to keep the playing surface healthy.
While it helps with the quality of the course, it can also lead to an uneven and unpredictable green to putt on.
Therein lies the problem.
After hearing a teammate comment on how difficult it was to putt, Kuhl realized he’d done something wrong.
He’d been repairing some of the aeration marks on the greens, which is a no-no according to the Rules of Golf. Here’s more from GolfDigest on that rule.
In 2019… Rule 13.1c(2) was amended to allow repair of “almost any damage on the green.” The key word there, of course, is “almost.” As the rule reads, “any damage” includes ball-marks, shoe damage (spike marks), indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc. Unfortunately, that etc. did not include aeration marks.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” Kuhl said after learning of his error. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t tell the rules official.”
By telling officials, the golfer effectively disqualified himself from the qualifier despite setting that course record. Fans online were quick to comment.
One person asked, “Why are they hosting a qualifying on aerated greens?”
Someone else wrote, “Honestly, golf purists will say otherwise, but this is bullcrap.”
While most were frustrated with the outcome, many were proud of the way Kuhl handled the situation. This fan said, “Feel terrible for Tommy Kuhl, but this shows his character. Definitely a fan of this kid!”
A tough break for Kuhl on an otherwise spectacular day. Hopefully, karma comes back around for the youngster.