Golfer With A Nagging Conscience Shows What Sportsmanship Is All About

This kind of honesty is both difficult and rare. Wow.

Blayne Barber: Class act. Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

Blayne Barber is an amateur golfer who has spent years working towards getting onto the PGA Tour. Last week he competed in the first round of a series of events called “Q School” that allow golfers to work towards getting their tour card, with which they can compete on the highest stage and for the most money. Barber played well at the first tournament, and easily passed into the next round. But even days after the event, something didn’t sit right with him.

In the tourney’s second round, on the 13th hole, Barber felt that he had brushed a leaf in the bunker. His caddy assured him that he hadn’t, but Barber couldn’t in good conscience just move on. He assessed himself a one-stroke penalty and continued playing. (Golf is a sport where you score and penalize yourself. The honor code is the order of the day.) Unfortunately, the penalty for such an infraction is two strokes, but as his caddy continued to assure him that the leaf had never moved in the first place (and that therefore even the one-stroke penalty was unnecessary). Barber continued and eventually finished the rest of the tournament.

Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

But over the days that followed that tourney, Barber couldn’t shake the guilt that weighed on his conscience. He gave Golfweek a look inside his thinking: “I continued to pray about it and think about it, and I just did not have any peace about it. I knew I needed to do the right thing. I knew it was going to be disqualification.”

So Barber did just that. He called the PGA and disqualified himself for signing an inaccurate scorecard. The worst part? Barber finished five strokes below the cut line. Even if he had assessed himself the two-stroke penalty, he would have comfortably moved on. But Barber doesn’t seem to have any regrets.

“I just feel peace about it,” Barber told Golfweek. “Doing the right thing and doing what I know is right in my heart and in my conscience is more important than short-term success.”

Moral of the story:

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