We’re often reminded that golf is a game of integrity.
The latest standard-bearer of this time-honored principle is Jacob Stockl of Clark, N.J. After completing the second round of stroke-play qualifying on Tuesday, the 16-year-old noticed a discrepancy on his scorecard. Stockl signed for a 5 on his scorecard when he actually made a 6 at the 18th hole. Though the error wasn’t entirely his, Stockl knew he was ultimately responsible and brought the discrepancy to the attention of Geoffrey Yang, chairman of the USGA Junior Amateur Championship Committee.
Yang and Ben Kimball, director of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, had only one recourse, which was to disqualify Stockl for a violation of Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) in the Rules of Golf.
Ultimately, the error put Stockl out of an 11-for-7 playoff. Afterward, he took refuge in the parking lot where tears fell hard. Stockl was shocked not so much by the error, but the perception that some might have of the incorrect score, which was entirely an accident; though his father, Kimball and Yang tried to comfort him afterward, he was inconsolable.
“He was more concerned with how people were going to perceive the disqualification,” says Kimball. “It was hard for him to swallow, but it took a great deal of integrity to admit his mistake.”
In a year in sports that is increasingly gaining notoriety for missed calls, Stockl stands tall.
“It was great. Honesty and character are critical values in the game and the fact that he stepped up and called it on himself shows a lot of character,” Yang says. “His action epitomizes what the game is all about.”
– Andrew Blair