Home Lifestyle COLUMN: Integrity should be par for the course

COLUMN: Integrity should be par for the course

Tommy Kuhl. Photo from University of Illinois

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money…and that is sincerity and integrity.” — Donald A. Adams, president of Rotary International (1925-26)

Hello friends (utilizing my best Jim Nantz imitation). Next year, 156 of the world’s best golfers will descend on Pinehurst Golf and Country Club for the 2024 U.S. Open. I hope Tommy Kuhl, a fifth-year senior at the University of Illinois, wins the whole thing.

McDonald, what have you been adding to your Arnold Palmers?

Nothing, as always, I ask that you hear me out.

Here we go…


Nothing, carry on.

Thank you.

My pleasure.

Currently, those with far more golf talent and skill than I ever possessed are currently attempting to qualify for this year’s U.S. Open which will be held June 15-18 at the Los Angeles Country Club.

According to the USGA website, “a record 10,187 entries were received. Players (unless otherwise qualified due to various exemptions) will participate in qualifying at 109 local sites including Canada, Japan and England.” It’s quite the undertaking. It’s very humbling too.

McDonald, integrity, remember.

Yeah, yeah, just keep your shirt on.

Last week, Tommy Kuhl shot a course record 62 in U.S. Open qualifying at the Illini Country Club in Springfield, Illinois. He was medalist and was on his way to the second stage of U.S. Open qualifying. All was right with the world.

Not so fast, my friends.

Uh, oh.

Uh, oh is right.

Kuhl was disqualified. Goodbye course record. Goodbye U.S. Open.

Hello, integrity.

You have my complete attention.

Kuhl disqualified himself. Yes, you read that right. The player who just shot a course record and had been the medalist for local qualifying disqualified…himself.

The qualifier was played on greens that were recently aerated. While it’s acceptable in the rules of golf to fix ball marks and spike marks, fixing aeration holes is a no no. Kuhl had fixed several during his round.

After talking to a teammate, he began to feel sick.

He knew he would have to report it. He would go on to call the penalty on himself and away would go the course record, away would go the medalist honors and away would go his chance for moving on to regional qualifying for the 2023 U.S. Open.

He handled it like Bobby Jones…the epitome of amateur golf and sportsmanship.

From amateurgolf.com “I should know better,” Kuhl told mondayqinfo.com.

“It comes down to me. I should know that rule. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t tell the rules official.”

Wow. After all of that work, he stood up, admitted his error and faced the consequences.

Yes he did — sportsmanship at it’s finest. His parents should be brimming with pride.

According to the CFA Institute website, the American author and philosopher Aldo Leopold once said: “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching — even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

Kuhl gave not only the golf world an example of integrity, he showed how much one person would sacrifice to do the right thing. We could all learn from him.

I hope he makes it to Pinehurst in 2024. I’d love to shake his hand.

Christopher McDonald is a veteran, former teacher and golf enthusiast. Reach him at cmcdonald@richmondobserver.com.