Florida Mid-Amateur decided after finalist withdraws, accuses opponent’s caddie of assault

May 21, 2018

The Florida State Golf Association’s 37th Mid-Amateur Championship was decided on May 13, but the odd manner in which it finished has just come to light: a rules dispute followed by an alleged assault.

Marc Dull won the title at Coral Creek Club in Placida, Fla., after his opponent, Jeff Golden, withdrew. Dull and Golden were all square through 16 holes, but heavy rains delayed play for 2 1/2 hours. When the weather cleared, Golden was unable to continue “due to an unfortunate injury,” according to a report on the FSGA website. 

Turns out, there’s plenty more to the story. 

Golf Channel reported on Sunday that Golden told the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office that Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs, assaulted him in the parking lot during the rain delay.

According to the police report, which was originally obtained by Golf Channel and can be read below, when a rules dispute unfolded on the 9th hole of their match, Hibbs “recused himself from the course as he had caused the rule infraction.”

When the rain delay stopped play on the 17th hole, Golden said he used the break to stop at his car in the clubhouse parking lot. When he did, according to the report, “Hibbs approached him, apologized, then punched him on the left side of the face causing Jeffery to fall to the ground.”

Golden, 33, chose not to press charges and refused medical attention.

Hibbs also provided a statement to the police, saying that after he recused himself from the round he was in the clubhouse until Dull returned. He said he never went to the parking lot and denied punching Golden.

The officer’s report found no swelling or abrasions to Golden’s face, but did reference “some redness on the inside of Jeffery’s lip. He also said no scrapes or abrasions were on Hibbs’ hands.

According to Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner, who spoke to those involved (Hibbs did not return a call), the rules infraction occurred on the 9th green, when Golden asked Dull if the hole was damaged or surrounded by loose debris.

“Don’t worry about it,” Hibbs reportedly told Golden, according to Lavner. “If you’re going to make it, you’re going around it.”

Golden told a rules official that he thought Hibbs’ statement should be deemed advice, and Dull lost the hole and Golden took a 2-up lead. That’s when Hibbs removed himself from the match.

Dull told Lavner he was unaware of the alleged attack until police arrived. He also said that after the police left, Golden asked him if he would concede the match.

“I said that I wasn’t going to concede,” Dull told Lavner. “Why would I concede the match when I was sitting in the shelter, and when I come back someone is accused of being hit?”

Golden then conceded himself. (Although he later appealed the FSGA’s decision. According to Lavner, he wrote a letter to tournament officials saying they shouldn’t have accepted his concession.)

“Regrettably, the golf course was very playable and Jeff understood that he needed to resume the match,” FSGA executive director Jim Demick told Golf Channel. “I think he was just ready to go.”