One thing is clear about the rule of golf. They can be fickle. Jacksonville University golfer David Wicks found that out the hard way.
Unless a ball is damaged, a player must finish the hole with the same ball that he/she started it with. If that can’t happen, it’s a two-stroke penalty.
Wicks had marked his ball and was trying to read his upcoming three-foot par putt. That’s when things got messy.
“He crouched on a steep bank to read his putt, but as he stood up and reached for the ball in his right front pocket, he dropped it,” Ryan Lavner of the Golf Channel wrote. “Of course, it didn’t just fall straight down. No, it kicked off the back of his shoe, rolled off the green, around a bulkhead, and after a brief chase he watched it tumble into the water on the left side of the green.”
So, Wicks had two choices.
One, replace the ball and take the two-stroke penalty that goes with it.
Two, hop into the water and try to save it.
Given that Jacksonville was right on the brink of qualifying for the NCAA Championship, Wicks took option two. Better yet, there’s video proof.
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) May 18, 2017
Unfortunately, Wicks did not find his ball. So, the trip into the murky pond still resulted in the two-stroke penalty.
Fortunately, though, Wicks parred the remaining holes to earn his team a spot in a sudden death playoff. In the playoff, two solid pars helped Jacksonville earn a spot in the NCAA Championship.
“I was determined to redeem myself,” Wicks said, per Lavner. “I was worried that everyone would remember my college career as the guy who lost us a spot at nationals. That wasn’t the way I was going to go out.”
Given that it had a happy ending, Wicks’ story is a funny one that he’ll be telling for the rest of his life.