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Dyson Fined, On Double Secret Probation Over Spike Mark Tap

Certainly the most expensive spikemark tap in the history of golf (I think):

For Immediate Release:

Decision of the European Tour Disciplinary Panel in the matter of Simon Dyson
    1.    This is a summary of the decision reached by the Disciplinary Panel following a hearing at the offices of the European Tour on 5th December 2013.
    2.    Simon Dyson was charged by the European Tour with a Serious Breach of the European Tour’s Code of Behaviour, the facts alleged being that he intentionally tapped down a spike mark on the line of his putt on the 8th green at Lake Malaren Golf Club during the second round of the BMW Masters on 25th October 2013, and that in doing so he deliberately interfered with the line of his putt, contrary to Rule 16-1a of the Rules of Golf.

    3.    The Panel held that charge to have been made out by the Tour.  In particular, it found that:
(a)    Mr Dyson’s action in touching the line of his putt was a deliberate one;
(b)   that act was committed by him in the knowledge of the Rule forbidding such an act; and
(c)    his purpose in so acting was to improve his position on the green by pressing down a spike mark.

4.       As to sanction, the Panel bore two matters particularly in mind:
(a)    the extreme seriousness of the offence committed.  The Code of Behaviour starts with these very important words:

“On becoming a Member each person voluntarily submits himself to standards of behaviour and ethical conduct beyond those required of ordinary golfers and members of the public.  The European Tour has been the hallmark of honesty, fair dealings, courtesy, and sportsmanship and each Member is bound to honour and uphold that tradition at all times whether on or off the golf course.”

It is essential for the integrity of the professional game that all its participants adhere rigidly to this aspect of the code.  Conduct such as that committed by Mr Dyson is a very serious matter, which in the appropriate case would warrant an immediate suspension from the Tour;
(b)   the particular circumstances of the present offence.  Specifically:

(i)                  there is no history of misconduct on the part of Mr Dyson during his 14 years on the Tour;
(ii)                the fact, as the Panel found, that Mr Dyson’s conduct on the occasion in question involved a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating; and
(iii)               the fact that his conduct and the Panel’s decision will have caused and will continue to cause detriment to Mr Dyson.

5.       Accordingly, the Panel decided as follows:

(a)    to impose upon Mr Dyson a period of suspension from the Tour of two months, but to suspend its operation for a period of 18 months.  The effect of this is that, if during that 18 month period, Mr Dyson commits any breach of the Rules of Golf, his case will be referred back to the Panel to determine whether in the circumstances the suspension should immediately become effective.  If, however, at the end of that period, he has committed no such breach, then the threat of a suspension will fall away;
(b)   to fine Mr Dyson the sum of £30,000;
(c)    to order Mr Dyson to pay the sum of £7,500 towards the Tour’s costs of these proceedings;
(d)   Mr Dyson is to make such payments within 56 days.
 The Disciplinary Panel will in due course give detailed written reasons to the Tour and to Mr Dyson.  These detailed reasons will remain confidential to the parties.
No further statement by the Panel or any of its members will be made.

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Reader Comments (57)

You'll not want to be following Symon for the next 18 months. "Um, a bug landed on my ball and it might have moved, I need a ruling", I need a drop from this path. I'm going to wait for an official." Etc., etc.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
I can possibly imagine why the game of golf isn't growing.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commentercottriab
Good Lord, what a wordy bunch. No wonder it took the better part of 6 weeks to put the thing to rest.
It was a brain fart and the DQ was equitable , imo.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
Perhaps he could contact Vijay's attorney and get some, punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime..looks like a random
in-the-moment act...someone lie awake the night before hoping they could intentionally tap down a spike mark tomorrow??
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdbenson
Seems pretty generous to me given the panel's points in #3.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Good old fashioned bud nipping at its finest. Mr. Dyson won't be tapping down anymore spike marks anytime soon.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
No doubt Mr Dyson did the wrong thing here in relation to the current rules and is copping more than his fair whack now. But there doesn't need to be any spike marks for him to negotiate. Why are metal spikes not banned? It's insane. I don't know about elsewhere but most courses in Australia banned metal spikes long ago. I haven't seen a spike mark for years.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNado
When a golfer pays a fine, is a fine tax deductible due to the payment being made to a "non-profit" (PGA/ NFL)?
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPanco
It costs more over there because there's an extra letter in their honor. Overkill for a clear brain cramp.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin

I believe the pros wear metal spikes on a lot of courses where metal spikes are normally banned. It occurs in Australia too and at my course.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErrol
And after kinda of reading this lengthy ruling;

Golf is full of bueracratic ninnies. And i don't even know what a ninny is, but whomever is involved in this ruling is one
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterVwgolfer
Has anyone ever seen anything like this come from the PGA Tour?
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOPGolfer
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. Why'd they give him 56 days to pay? Too long.

Anybody who thinks it was too harsh doesn't understand a central pillar of the Rules of Golf - "No whining". That means don't say "oh, it was a brain cramp", "whaa, people still use metal spikes", or "boo hoo, maybe he forgot that rule". (Vwgolfer, THAT'S how a ninny talks.) Because somebody could always say something mitigating/whingey/whiney, about ANY rules violation. Consequently you have to ignore all of it.
Reading this: they think he cheated and tapped the spike mark knowingly and consciously. They also think he's done this before. But they can't prove it. I suspect they wanted to suspend him, but didn't feel they had a good enough case.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Chuck in VA +1

Used to play with a buddy down in South Carolina who rolled his ball everywhere on the course, including the fairway. Didn't matter how perfect the lie or how manicured the fairway, he always fiddled with it to the point it was ingrained in his pre-shot routine. I asked him one time why he did that and he looked puzzled at first. He didn't even realize he was doing it. That's exactly what Dyson's breach looked like to me - someone who has developed a bad habit who didn't consciously grasp what he was doing.

He should pay his fine quickly and quietly and consider himself lucky there was no suspension.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShady Golf
Does the European Tour really believe they are doing anything with benefit to anyone here? Dyson made a mistake, lost his focus. Should have been DQ'd, that should have been the end of it. I could care less about what long-winded explanation the ET comes up with. They haven't preserved the integrity of the game any more than it was preserved before.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Daschel
What a crock.

What was?

Take you pick.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
"Developed a bad habit"? No previous video of Dyson doing this. No one came forward to make claims of him doing this whether it be playing partners, marker, scorer or someone from TV/radio. Looking like it was done without thinking I agree with but it being habitual cannot be assumed.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarter Redbush
I agree with Shady that it may've been a habit. But during the tournament, when the incident was fresh and the European Tour was using less-edited footage, it also showed Dyson furtively looking right and left immediately afterward, as if he had realized what he had done and quickly checked to see if a playing partner had seen it.

Later, when GC showed a clip about the incident they didn't show the post-tap glances.

Just as commentators on the European broadcasts are willing to chide a bad shot, it seems European Tour officials are willing to expose a different kind of bad play. That certainly isn't what we have this side of the Atlantic.
When you sweep this sort of stuff under the rug, you get Vijay Singh.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
It is a good thing Tiger is not on the European Tour
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Spachler
Dyson breached a rule and should have been penalized. I don't think there's any doubt there. That said, the press release strikes a tone more worthy of a serial killer conviction than an explanation of why a professional athlete was fined.

More importantly, it's almost nonsensical. The panel found, and I quote: "Mr. Dyson's action was deliberate. He knew of the rule forbidding the act. His purpose was to improve his position on the green." At the same time, "His conduct did not involve a premeditated act of cheating." So, um, which one of the two was it then, almighty panel? I'm not a lawyer, but I can read. From West's Encyclopedia of American Law: "A deliberate person does not act rashly or suddenly but with a preconceived intention.[...] Deliberate is synonymous with premeditated." Maybe the Europeans subscribe to a slightly different interpretation...

I cannot take that statement seriously - because it's pretty much a train wreck. Furthermore, @ Chuck and others, I don't see how a release like this contributes to the statue of golf as a game of honor and integrity. Simply judging by the reactions from many of the readers here, the statement underscores the impression of golf as a stuffy, bureaucratic affair.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think the fine was too harsh. But the way it was handled and explained was off the chart, imho.
12.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H.

"3 The Panel held that charge to have been made out by the Tour. In particular, it found that:

(a) Mr Dyson’s action in touching the line of his putt was a deliberate one;
(b) that act was committed by him in the knowledge of the Rule forbidding such an act; and
(c) his purpose in so acting was to improve his position on the green by pressing down a spike mark."


"4 (b) the particular circumstances of the present offence. Specifically:

(ii) the fact, as the Panel found, that Mr Dyson’s conduct on the occasion in question involved a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating"

As others have said, are these paragraphs describing the same event?
12.6.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbs
I guess Dyson hasn't learn the PGA Tour ploy of noticing a ball mark from the Jurassic period - fix that ball mark and the spike mark issue become mute. I could be wrong as the players are 12 inches from the mark, but I have heard this mentioned jokingly enough that this must have some truth behind it.

This penalty for Dyson is so excessive that there must have been muttering or complaints from the past that just cannot be substantiated at this time. Stroke penalty and fine was sufficient - the word would be clearly out that this will not be tolerated. The suspension and wording makes me wonder what else is in play with this decision.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephenP
It cost the tour 7500 pounds to come up with this?
I don't know but it seems Dyson must have pi$$ed someone off for this to happen.
It's a load of bollocks maybe he should take it to a higher court!

12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDick Mahoon
Another ridiculous rule...and we wonder why golf is shrinking.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterB.I.G.
If TW routinely play euro PGA he probably end up being executed
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNubi
I don't think the fine was too harsh either. I was surprised, having met Dyson a few times when he was an amateur.
But I get a feeling the European Tour used the Dyson incident in light of the rules infringements on the Tours the last year or so. Maybe because of those Tiger incidents they felt compelled to set a standard ? Just feeling, IMO.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
What if he walked over this spike mark serendipitously????
12.6.2013 | Unregistered Commentervwgolfer
Oops I meant ON the spike mark.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered Commentervwgolfer
Maybe the European Tour has decided to operate a bit differently than the PGA Tour, where a heavy morning dew risks a ball-in-hand discussion. Or where one slow-play penalty has been enforced in like what - going on 2 decades or more?

I'm not saying that everyone here in Europe thinks Dyson got what he deserved, but I definitely sense a more serious approach to rules violations and the integrity of the sport within the European golf culture. They don't see it exclusively as a made-for-tv endeavor.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Do you have to be Tiger to use the new Tiger rule?

If not, Dyson can just claim that he cannot see spike marks in the future.

He's golden.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Impartial application of harsh penalties for infractions is the best way to protect all players when they're honest, and especially when they accidentally violate a rule (although it may not seem obvious at the time). Conversely, allowing softening of penalties or nuanced enforcement of the rules is a direct threat to everyone.

First, "going wobbly" on the rules potentially allows dishonest players to disguise their cheating as a mistake or misunderstanding. Since everyone at least unconsciously understands this, rules violations are more likely to make people suspect cheating, fairly or unfairly. (I think this also makes some players more interested in manipulating the shade and nuance within the rules, which is not only unsporting but hugely boring.)

Attempting to correct for this by adding walking officials or other scrutiny would only make things worse. Officials would have to be with every group in every tournament, at which point players would naturally start to think of themselves as outside the enforcement mechanism. Since officials can't watch every player, or even see everything one player does, the cheaters among them would get bolder, suspicions will get worse, and competitive golf at any level would become a farce.

Most people understand all this, even if only unconsciously, which is why every rules infraction tends to at least briefly taint the offending player as a potential cheater. It's reflexive so a player with a solid reputation for integrity may only suffer this kind of suspicion for a few seconds (although the more times he screws up, the less his reputation will protect him, as Tiger learned this year). But this is also why enforcement has to be both severe and impartially applied. A harsh penalty not only discourages cheating, it comes closer to ruling it out entirely, which in turn makes an honest mistake look more obviously honest.

In other words, impartial assignment of harsh penalties not only protects scores for everyone in the long run, it protects a player's reputation at the expense of his score, which is not only how things should be, but how they must work for golf.
@vw, that was an old Florida mini-tour trick back in the day when spikes were worn. If you saw a guy going about half way between the hole and his ball to look at his line or do a practice stroke from there, he might actually be stepping in his line hoping to press down the spike mark with his own spikes. I think the bottom line is that the guy pressed down a spike mark and that is illegal. It doesn't matter if it was a brain fart or he was trying to get away with it. If he is found to do it again then I think we probably know the answer. I do disagree though with posters saying this stuff goes on all the time. Maybe on the Tour and lesser tours but not on the PGA Tour. Guys know they are finished if they are caught. Too big of a downside. A prominent junior and collegiate player was caught cheating back in the day and his playing career was finished. He is actually a pretty well known regional teacher now who still "earns" whispers behind his back as the lesson he paid for cheating.
12.6.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
I agree, Chuck. No need to consider individual cases, events, reputation, or other complicating factors. Just penalize the hell out of everyone who breaks a rule, no matter what rule, and no matter how it was broken, or whether an advantage was gained. Because it's rules that are important.....
12.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJds
''First, "going wobbly" on the rules potentially allows dishonest players to disguise their cheating as a mistake or misunderstanding.''

12.7.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Jds, I don't think you read my post very carefully.

digs, you are correct, sir. A petabrazillion times correct.

Somebody, maybe it was Vardon, was playing an Open Championship once and his ball came to rest in a discarded, broken whiskey bottle. He had to play it as it lay. That was dumb, but it seems there are too many decisions made about definitions because of narrow self-interest - at some point somebody wanted to know if a rule applied under circumstances that weren't covered by the simpler language of a basic rule. And this process snowballed.

My philosophy: if it isn't obvious, the answer is "no", the rule in question does NOT allow you to do whatever it is you want. Just play on.
I love the comments from the people who say the rules are ridiculous and too long and difficult, and that penalizing this guy for tapping down a spike mark is too tough. Reminds me of regulation and govt. assistance and the republlicans and tee party advocates. No regulation and no govt. assistance unless it involves something they care about or need money for. The rules and regulations of golf is what makes the game of golf....the game of golf. You can't pick and choose what you want to follow and what you want to let slide.
12.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim Lennon
I disagree with your assertion that strong penalties that may or may not incentivize the field to comply is a good thing. I think the harm from wooden application of fairly complex rules, the application of which is often arbitrary at the margins, outweighs the gains. For me, a no gain, no foul rule would be better, and then you'll really develop, and test who has, integrity. Or do you think Tiger is the only one on tour whose ball "oscillated" (or not) these last few years?
12.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJds
So now that I've vented, two more points:
(1) I agree with your "philosophy" when applying it to oneself. When you make it normative, and apply it to others, I think it's ohhh, I don't have precisely the right word, in polite conversation, and the words I want to use are offensive, so let's just say "poorly formed, philosophically speaking."
(2) people generally tell you about themselves by the way they write or speak. I think I understood your prior post very well.
12.7.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJds

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