College Golfer Tommy Kuhl Disqualifies Himself From U.S. Open Over Accidental Rule Break After Shooting Course Record

Every now and then, the professional golf world is rocked by a cheating scandal. What's less common is for a golfer to tell on themselves after cheating by accident. But that's exactly what happened this week in the case of University of Illinois collegiate player Tommy Kuhl, who opted to disqualify himself after realizing he had inadvertently broken a rule.

Kuhl had just set a course record at the Illini Country Club in Springfield, Illinois, with a 10-under 62, which had earned him a spot in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier. However, while watching his teammate Adrien Dumont De Chassart compete for one of the final spots, another teammate, Jackson Buchanan, brought up how it had been difficult putting on the course's aerated greens.

It was only then that Kuhl realized that he had been fixing aeration marks during his own qualifying game. And while no one would have been the wiser, he knew then that he would have to disqualify himself.

"I felt sick to my stomach,” Kuhl later told Monday Q. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t tell the rules official.”

In 2019, the United States Golf Association enacted Rule 13.1c(2), which allowed golfers to fix nearly any type of damage to the green, including spike marks, ball-marks, club or flagstick indentations, and natural animal damage. Previously, the rule stated that a player could only repair ball-marks or old hole plugs.

But unfortunately for Kuhl, that rule precludes "aeration holes, natural surface imperfections, or natural wear of the hole."

Perhaps this is why some players avoid aerated greens altogether.

"I should know better. It comes down to me. I should know that rule," Kuhl conceded, admitting that he had made multiple repairs during his qualifying game. Not long after, he turned himself into rules official.

But while Kuhl will now have to wait before fulfilling his dream of playing in the U.S. Open, his disqualification resulted in his teammate De Chassart securing a spot. Hey, there's always next year.