I am thankful for integrity, that special feature exhibited by certain people whom you can trust to be honest and have character under any circumstance. It is so tempting to try to justify lapses in integrity, but we are rewarded if we avoid that temptation and put all above board and stay true to ourselves.
When I was trying to come up with a photo idea for integrity, my love of golf came to mind. Golf is the only sport I know of in which the participants “referee” themselves. Golf is a game that calls for playing the ball as it lies. It is common for golfers to call penalties on themselves. That’s why it takes a great amount of integrity to play as the game was intended. Sometimes, it would be tempting to kick the ball out of a mess it’s in, such as the one in the photo, especially if no one is looking. However that is not how golf is supposed to be played.
I am reminded of Webb Simpson who called a stroke penalty on himself at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in 2011, while, when addressing a putt the wind blew so strongly that the ball moved. Even though he hadn’t touched the ball, it clearly moved and that was in violation of the rules of golf. That stroke penalty cost him the victory; he ended up in a playoff with Bubba Watson, which he lost. Even though most golfers believed the rule was unjust in cases such as these in which the golfer is not responsible for the ball moving, the rule had to be followed. Although Simpson did not win, he gained a lot of respect from people who realized the cost he paid by staying true to his integrity. And probably because of Webb Simpson, the rule was changed on January 1, 2012, so that when a ball moves by no fault of the golfer, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.
This photo shows a nearly impossible golf lie. By the rules, the golfer has the option to play it as is or take a stroke penalty and drop it within two club lengths no nearer the hole or drop it as far back as they like as long as it is on a line from the original umplayable ball position and the hole. It is up to the golfer to decide if they have an unplayable lie or not and if they find it unplayable, which method they use for the next shot. Golf is an excellent self-enforced game, one of the reasons I love it so much. It is truly a “gentleperson’s game”. -rt
i found myself in a bad lie
of which there was no return
i hemmed and hawed
but a lesson i thus learned
for it is easier to tell truth
from the beginning to end
than to have to remember
when it was the truth did bend
so it was easy to spot
the great falsehood that i had spread
and rather than justify and explain
best admit and put it to bed.
© rt tulley