Photo: Tom Pennington (Getty Images)

Follow along with this story of a golf punching and help me decide who is the actual villain, here. The setting is Coral Creek Club in Charlotte County, along Florida’s gulf coast. Two men—Marc Dull and Jeff Golden—were playing out the final holes of the hotly contested Mid-Amateur Championship, when Golden, lining up a putt on the ninth green, asked Dull about the condition of the cup.

Seems to me if you ask a question aloud in a public setting, you are, in fact, soliciting a response. Maybe I’m crazy! At any rate, Golden got an answer, albeit a rather inscrutable one, from Dull’s caddy, a man named Brandon Hibbs. Per the Golf Channel report:

“Don’t worry about it,” Hibbs reportedly told Golden. “If you’re going to make it, you’re going around it.”

Okay. Here’s where I am, as of now, bearing in mind that I am an extremely casual (and lousy) golfer: the man asked a question, and it was answered, and so that’s that. But here’s where shit starts to go off the rails, in an oh-so-golf kind of way:

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.

Golden—who asked the question, aloud, of his opponent—ran to a rules official when his question was answered by his opponent’s caddy, citing a USGA rule that makes advice from your partner’s caddy a punishable violation. This strikes me as at least petty and lame, if not downright dubious. Golf’s rules are very dumb.

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But that should not excuse what happened later! Hibbs was pissed enough that he reportedly recused himself and returned to the clubhouse. Dull and Golden continued to play, but later, prior to the 17th hole, play was halted due to inclement weather. Golden made his way to the parking lot, to grab some dry clothing from his car. Along the way he crossed paths with Hibbs, the caddy. Can you see what’s coming?

“I had a moment where I was happy to see him, because the first thing he said to me was, ‘I want to apologize,’” Golden said last week in a phone interview. “By the time he finished I was being punched.”

A sucker punch! Distracting with a head-fake towards contrition and reconciliation while loading up the devastating right cross is truly the lowest of low-down, dirty-ass fight moves. Extremely rude and uncivilized behavior by the golf man. Golden reportedly hit the pavement, wrecked and bloodied by the unexpected haymaker. Police were called, and though they observed no injuries to Golden’s face, nor any signs of punching on Hibbs’s fist, Golden maintains the punch was powerful enough to send him, later, in search of medical care. No arrest was made, and Golden was apparently not even given the option of pressing charges, but he eventually wound up consulting with a doctor and undergoing a CT scan as a result of his injuries.

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But first! There were two holes of a round left, to settle a tournament left hanging in the balance by rain. This is where Golden once again looked to protocols and procedures for a solution to what ailed him:

With the course now playable after a two-hour delay, under the Rules of Golf, the players were expected back on the 17th hole.

Golden asked Dull whether he would concede the match.

Bold! For having a mouthy caddy who may or may not have punched someone in the face—and Hibbs reportedly denies punching Golden, or even leaving the clubhouse—Dull is asked to concede the whole tournament, with just two holes left to play! To which he responded with an emphatic hell nah:

“I said that I wasn’t going to concede,” Dull said. “Why would I concede the match when I was sitting in the shelter, and when I come back someone is accused of being hit?”

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Golden was still feeling pretty fucked up—getting punched in the face is no fun, and Golden may have suffered a concussion in the exchange—and so, feeling that he was in no condition to contest the final two holes, he wound up conceding to Dull. Sadly, it sounds like basically nobody is on his side, here:

A day later, once the details of the police report became available, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that Golden “didn’t want to play anymore.”

“Regrettably, the golf course was very playable and Jeff understood that he needed to resume the match,” he said. “I think he was just ready to go.”

When asked to comment on the alleged attack, Demick said that the police “found absolutely no evidence of an assault.”

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But that’s not the end! Get this: Golden has since appealed the FSGA’s handling of the incident, and has reportedly complained that tournament officials shouldn’t have accepted his concession. What in the absolute hell.

Listen. Do not punch people. Do not kick people. Do not assault people in any way. Go through your life peacefully, practice patience and generosity, and do whatever you can to stop people around you from being harmed. But also, probably it’s a good idea to remember that sometimes people—bad people! Neanderthals!—resort to punching other people, and so it’s a good idea to not be a petty, dishonorable dickweed who uses the rulebook to lash out at people who violate your notions of etiquette. Read the whole wacky report here.