Elliot Saltman deserves a sucker punch from P.J. Boatwright, Jr.
If P.J. Boatwright, Jr., one of the game’s foremost authorities on the rules of golf, were around today, I’m pretty sure he would have been one of the first people waiting outside the hearing room in Abu Dhabi to greet Elliot Saltman. With a sucker punch.
You see, P.J. wasn’t the kind of guy who took too kindly to people breaking the rules of golf. And Elliott Saltman will forever be branded a rule-breaker, after he was caught red handed at a European Challenge Tour event in Moscow, Russia, just last year.
His punishment? A three-month ban that was announced earlier today by a committee of eight European Tour officials.
The charge was a steep one, as it involved him incorrectly marking his ball not once, but on five different occasions in the opening round of the event. His playing partners confronted him after the round, then let the Challenge Tour rules committee in on the situation.
After meeting with the committee and his playing partners, Saltman was disqualified from the event. The worst part? He says he admitted to the charges “because I was in shock at the time and I didn’t want to be labelled a cheat.”
Seriously? The rules of golf are there to keep players on the straight and narrow when they tee it up. But at the end of the day, it’s the player’s job to follow those rules — especially when it comes to something as simple as marking your own ball.
If Saltman believed he had marked his ball correctly, then it would have been in his best interest to fight the charges. Just rolling over and accepting the DQ would label you a cheat, while fighting the charge may have allowed him to keep a clean record until the ruling.
Instead, Saltman put himself in a negative (read: guilty) light from the start. It’s a ruling that will stay with Saltman for the rest of his career. The scarlet letter has already been branded on his golf bag. There’s no looking back at this point.
It’s a shame Saltman didn’t have the heart or the courage to stick up for himself. If he had, that three-month ban could have been reduced. But like they always say, hindsight is twenty-twenty.