HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (AP) — The LPGA Tour probably didn’t have Michelle Wie in mind when it created a policy that bans for one year any non-tour member who can’t break 88.
Barb Trammell, the longtime chief rules official for the LPGA until leaving last year, traced the policy to 1990 when players from the Teaching & Club Pro division competed in tournaments. Some of them struggled, and it became a problem for regular tour members. She recalled two situations that led to what is now known as the “88 Rule.”
“`We had a T&CP player in the field who shot 100-plus, and for the players who were paired with her, it was a distraction, as you can imagine,” Trammell said. “The second time, it was a tour player paired with a T&CP player, who made the turn in 52 or 53. The tour player said, ‘Either you’re going to withdraw or I am.’ And the tour player withdrew at the turn.”
That’s when players went to the LPGA board, and the policy was adopted.
Alice Miller, the tournament director of the LPGA Championship and a former player, was involved in the rule. She played with Lori Garbacz and a teaching pro in Minnesota one year. The teaching pro failed to break 100, returned the next day and was on her way to triple digits again when Miller suggested they all withdraw and have lunch.
“She wanted to keep playing,” Miller said. “Lori hit one shot and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ So I kept playing. For a while, they were calling it the ‘Alice Miller Rule.'”
Trammell said the LPGA landscape has changed significantly since then, even when teaching pros play sparingly on the LPGA.
“All their playing abilities are much stronger, much better, than they were 15 or 20 years ago,” Trammell said. “It was never much of an issue. But I don’t think at the time the rule was instituted that anybody contemplated a situation like Michelle Wie.”
Wie flirted with an 88 in her 2007 debut on the LPGA Tour when she abruptly withdrew at the Ginn Tribute with two holes remaining.
The tour waived “Rule 88” last year for 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd, given an exemption to fulfill a wish for her dying mother. It has been applied twice already this year. Ana Laura Gomez opened with an 88 in the Corona Morelia Championship and did not return, and MacKinzie Kline, the 15-year-old who was allowed to use a cart and oxygen because of a congenital heart defect, had an 89 in the second round of the Ginn Tribute.