USGA Fires Back At Thomas Over Rules Criticism

The Rules of Golf have been the biggest story in golf over the first two months of 2019, and they had yet another headline-stealing day on Saturday.

With the news that PGA Tour pro Adam Schenk  was retroactively assessed a 2-stroke penalty for having his caddie line him up during the second round of the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas, one of the USGA’s most vocal critics in recent weeks, took to Twitter to once again voice his displeasure with new and modernized guidelines.

Schenk was determined to have violated Rule 10.2b (4) on the 17th hole of his second round. The PGA Tour informed Schenk of the penalty minutes before his third-round tee time and posted on their various social media channels an explanation, which caught Thomas’ eye.

Thomas lamented the enforcement of the rule, which is designed to keep players from using their caddies as an alignment aid, does not cover the gamut of real-world reasons why a caddie would be standing behind a player. Instead, based upon their location, a penalty can be levied despite no malintent. 

He argued that his activism on Twitter led to the clarification and ultimate rescinding of a penalty that came from the Tour during the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

By that point, however, the USGA had seen enough. Using the organization’s official public relations account, the governing body responded directly to Thomas and requested a meeting to talk over his issues with the new rules. They also included that they have bee available and open to talk to pros, Thomas in particular, but he has canceled those attempts.

“Justin, we need to talk,” the tweet read. “You’ve cancelled every meeting we’ve planned with you, but we are reaching out again. We were at the first 5 events, and tournaments last year, and your tour has had a seat at the table for 7 years. We’d love nothing more than to give you a seat. Call us.”

While Thomas had signed off Twitter for the evening, he was made aware of the USGA’s request and did acquiesce to their request.

Thomas hasn’t made any public comment since the USGA’s tweets went out. He tees off at 11:15 a.m. in the final round of the Honda Classic alongside John Huh.