The Zach Nash “Fair Game” Scholarship

Encourage Integrity, Fairness, Good Sportsmanship and Excellence in Athletes - AWARDS: $250 - $500 - $750 - $1000

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Funds raised are awarded to athletes exhibiting exceptional skills and knowledge of the game while maintaining the highest standards of integrity, honesty and sportsmanship.

Zach Nash of Waterford, Wisconsin shot a 77 to win the junior (13-14 age division) Wisconsin PGA tournament. He’d done it! The Championship was his. The hours of practice and course time had really paid off. Or so it seemed.

Without rules, it’s just not a game.

While most are not familiar with all the rules of golf, and most casual players don’t play strictly by the rules, PGA play is official play and everyone is expected to know all the rules and play by them. And for the most part, it’s on the honor system, each player being responsible for his or her conduct and adherence to game play rules and reporting any deviations or violations. Unfortunately, Zach didn’t discover until afterwards, at the Rivermoor Golf Club, while chatting and sharing a soda with his mentor and golf pro Chris Wood, that he had been carrying one of his friend’s clubs with him throughout the tournament, making a total of 15 clubs in his bag. That’s one too many. It seems the 4-4 rule he had broken calls for a two stroke penalty for each hole played with more than 14 clubs, with a maximum of four penalty strokes. Since he hadn’t noticed the extra club until after the tournament, signing an incorrect scorecard disqualified him without recourse. Or so he honestly believed.

“A kid grows up faster on the course. Golf teaches you how to behave.” – Jack Nicklaus

Character counts.

Nash, who has been golfing since he was about 10, wasn’t about to soil golf’s reputation by fudging. With his proud Iowan grandparents watching, Zach had just skillfully beaten 31 other players in his division, but he “knew right away I couldn’t live with myself if I kept this medal, so it was pretty instantaneous.” He unflinchingly called Andy Landenberger, junior tour director for the WPGA at the time, to disqualify himself and surrendered his medal. Understandably, the young man was disappointed and moved to tears as he relinquished his win to the runner up Dane Reinhardt, who had finished the tournament with an 80.

Keeping Integrity in the Game.

But here’s the ironic twist to this story. It appears that in his zeal to play by the rules, to play fair, did not realize that he could have legally retained his trophy under another rule; golf rule 34-1 that says, “a penalty must not be rescinded, modified or imposed after the competition has closed. A competition is closed when the result has been officially announced or, in stroke-play qualifying followed by match play, when the player has teed off in his first match.” Zach’s tournament play had been officially closed, so the rule violation was no longer technically enforceable. But Zach made the call without hesitation, knowing full well it would cost him the championship. Surely his legacy of honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship will do more for the good of the game and for his own future than another trophy on his shelf.

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  1. Philip Rose 
    2 years ago

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