Insanity: Golfer Penalized 8 Strokes for Having Stickers on his Clubs

Ben Crane, one of golf’s great personalities, was penalized 8 strokes Thursday for having two non-conforming clubs in his bag during the opening round of Web.com Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open. Friday morning he was disqualified from the tournament altogether due to new information coming to light.

Crane received two four-stroke penalties because two of his clubs had “shot sticker” decals on them. These stickers are used to collect data on launch monitors during practice. Although he didn’t use either of the clubs that had the decals on them, after talking to rules officials Friday morning, it was determined that the second violation should have been reported sooner, leading to the disqualification.

Crane, a five-time PGA Tour winner, brought the infraction to the attention of officials after playing the first hole. If he had noticed the violation before putting out at his opening hole, he would have received a two-stroke penalty for each infraction instead of four.

According to PGATour.com, Web.com officials consulted with the USGA to see if the second penalty was necessary since it fell under the same rule. It was determined they were separate violations.

“The rules staff did a great job and tried just to make it a 4-shot penalty, but the rule stands,” Crane said afterward. “Eight-shot penalty. It’s a bummer, but it’s the rules.”

He ended the round with a 5-over 76 but still felt uncomfortable about the situation the next day and discussed it further with Jim Duncan, the head of rules on the Web.com Tour.

“He came back this morning and said he knew he had the 6-iron, and he’s got to make a declaration that the club is out of play,” Duncan said.

“Either to a member of the committee, which he could have told [rules official] Andrew Miller, or to one of his fellow competitors. When he didn’t make that declaration, at that point he knew he had to take that club out of play, and that’s ultimately a disqualification penalty.”

Although Crane is a PGA Tour vet, he recently lost his Tour card, which is why he’s playing the Web.com Tour circuit. He can regain his card by finishing among the top 25 players in a four-event series of tournaments. He tied for sixth last week at the opening event of the Finals, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.

He handled the situation like a true gentleman and even took it as a learning experience, rather than getting down on himself or cursing the organization.

“You can still learn while you’re playing,” Crane said. “You can pick up something for the next tournament. I just tried to keep plugging away and make the best of it.”