R&A chief weighs in cautiously on Patrick Reed rules controversy

February 28, 2020
Martin Slumbers stayed near the fence when asked about Patrick Reed's rules controversy.

When a given news story dominates the golf offseason, it’s only a matter of time before each stakeholder in the game is asked about it. As for the Patrick Reed rules controversy from December, R&A chief Martin Slumbers had not spoken publicly on the issue until this week.

Speaking with reporters about a number of topics — notably how Royal Troon will host the 2023 British Open — Slumbers stayed rather close to the fence line on the Reed ruling.

“We live in a world now where everything is seen and everything is talked about.” Slumbers said. “Did the great players of 30 years ago lose their temper on the golf course? I’m sure they did. It just wasn’t reported upon. I think the young players today are on the whole great ambassadors for our sport — and they’re great company to be around. Certain things should be behind closed doors and private.”

Reed’s initial ruling was actually kept rather private. After he swiped sand away from his lie at the Hero World Challenge (which he claimed was done unintentionally), Reed met with Tour rules officials to see a recording of his actions via the television broadcast. Slugger White, the head of rules for the PGA Tour, handed Reed a two-shot penalty (which he accepted) and offered that Reed “could not have been more of a gentleman.”

That’s the type of “behind closed doors” setting Slumbers is referring to. Unfortunately for him, Reed, etc., what Slumbers also referred to is likely most true: “We live in a world where everything is seen and everything is talked about.”

The Reed rules controversy has perpetuated as a news story for nearly four months now, most recently being stirred up with comments by Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis. Slumbers made sure to not stir it up anymore. Other stakeholders — like Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley — will surely be asked about it soon as well.

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