It’s no secret that the game of golf prides itself on integrity and sportsmanship. After all, in what other sport to the competitors call penalties on themselves? It’s the basis of the game and what it was founded on.
So when stories like the one that came out of the Florida Mid-Am come out, they are sure to turn heads.
For those that might not have caught it, Marc Dull was declared the winner of the 37th Mid-Amateur Championship on May 13, but only after it was discovered that his opponent, Jeff Golden, could not finish the final two holes after an “unfortunate injury” sustained during a lengthy weather delay.
From there, the story gets stranger as Ryan Lavner of the Golf Channel laid out in his report of the incident:
According to a police report (see below) obtained by GolfChannel.com, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office received a call that afternoon from Dull’s opponent, Jeff Golden, who claimed that he’d been assaulted in the parking lot at Coral Creek Club, the tournament host site in Placida. In a statement provided to police, Golden said that he was sucker-punched in the face by Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs.
A caddie getting into an altercation with a player in the parking lot during a rain delay, and the player wasn’t even his. There’s something you don’t hear about every day!
As for the reason for the “sucker punch”? Take it away, Ryan:
Both in his statement to police and in a subsequent phone interview afterward, Golden, 33, said that the alleged incident stemmed from a rules dispute on the ninth hole during the championship match. As he surveyed his putt, Golden asked Dull whether the cup was damaged or if there was loose debris around the edge.
“Don’t worry about it,” Hibbs reportedly told Golden. “If you’re going to make it, you’re going around it.”
With tensions already running high because of what he perceived as breaches of etiquette by his opponents, Golden informed the rules official in the group that he believed Hibbs’ statement constituted advice. The penalty was a loss of hole, giving Golden a 2-up lead at the turn.
At that point, Hibbs told police, he recused himself and returned to the clubhouse. Dull and Golden continued their match, heading to the 17th hole all square when they were pulled off the course because of inclement weather.
Golden told police that he headed to the parking lot at 2:45 p.m. to retrieve some dry clothes from his car when Hibbs “approached him, apologized, then punched him on the left side of the face,” causing him to fall to the ground.
From there it appeared to turn into a case of “he said, he said”.
According to the statement that he gave officers after they arrived on the scene, Hibbs claimed to have been in the clubhouse the entire time and did not batter [Golden], nor was he in the parking lot. As if that wasn’t strange enough, it was also noted in the police report that there were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor was there any surveillance video from the parking lot. While observing Golden the officer also noted “no swelling or abrasions to the face,” but there was “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip.” Hibbs’ hands and knuckles showed “no scrapes or abrasions.”
When play was scheduled to resume, Golden asked Dull to concede the match, but after refusing to do so Golden decided to just concede it, thus awarding the win to Dull.
Below is the full copy of the police report: