The rules of golf were modernised on January 1st this year, but it was the good old fashioned 'unwritten rule' of honesty that was on display at the British Open at Royal Portrush recently.
During the Open an errant tee shot presented Lee Westwood with a tricky scenario. He'd driven into a thick bush and when he found his ball it was embedded in the turf beneath the bush. He asked the rules official if he deserved embedded ball relief - (Rule 16-3).
The rules official responded to his question with another question: would he play it from there if the ball was not embedded? That was the crucial ruling point. If Westwood would normally play from that spot beneath the bush, then he'd be entitled to take free relief.
So, Westwood had an option. The ruling would come down largely to his opinion. While it would not be reasonable to assert he would normally play from beneath the thick bush, he could have forced the issue. He could have lied about his intentions, hoping to use the rules to his advantage and preserve a share of the lead.
He didn't. Westwood took his punishment for the poor drive. He told the rules official that he would not normally play from beneath a bush like that, and thus his embedded ball was irrelevant. Instead, he took an unplayable lie, took relief back from the bush and made a bogey.
Westwood's hot start was thwarted, but he was able to hold his head up, which earned praise from fellow Euro Padraig Harrington.
Frank Webb, Captain.