Simon Dyson slapped with probation and fine over spike-gate
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour
Disciplinary action

Simon Dyson, report to the principal’s office

Simon Dyson was fined $49,000 and handed a two-month ban and suspended for 18 months after being found guilty of a serious breach of the European Tour’s code of behavior as a result of an incident at the BMW Masters in Shanghai in October.

Dyson met with a three-man disciplinary panel that convened at the Tour’s headquarters in Wentworth on Thursday to determine his fate due to a rules violation, where he tapped down a spike mark with his ball that was directly in the line of his short par putt. He was disqualified from the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard because he failed to add a two-shot penalty for his infraction. 

The thing that was so damning was Dyson tapped down the spike mark so nonchalantly, like it was second nature and something he’d done a gazillion times in the past.

Here’s the video again:

What in the world does “two-month ban, suspended for 18 months” mean exactly, anyway? Well, at first it sounds like the Englishman is banned from playing in a Tour event for two months and put on probation for 18 months, but that’s not the case. Turns out it’s just a fancy way of saying he’s on probation for 18 months and if he slips up and his integrity is questioned during that time frame, he’ll be immediately suspended for two months.

Here’s the European Tour’s detailed explanation:

Decision of the European Tour Disciplinary Panel in the matter of Simon Dyson

1. This is a summary of the decision reached by the Disciplinary Panel following a hearing at the offices of the European Tour on 5th December 2013.

2. Simon Dyson was charged by the European Tour with a Serious Breach of the European Tour’s Code of Behaviour, the facts alleged being that he intentionally tapped down a spike mark on the line of his putt on the 8th green at Lake Malaren Golf Club during the second round of the BMW Masters on 25th October 2013, and that in doing so he deliberately interfered with the line of his putt, contrary to Rule 16-1a of the Rules of Golf.

3. The Panel held that charge to have been made out by the Tour.  In particular, it found that:
(a) Mr Dyson’s action in touching the line of his putt was a deliberate one;
(b) that act was committed by him in the knowledge of the Rule forbidding such an act; and
(c) his purpose in so acting was to improve his position on the green by pressing down a spike mark.

4. As to sanction, the Panel bore two matters particularly in mind:
(a) the extreme seriousness of the offence committed.  The Code of Behaviour starts with these very important words:
“On becoming a Member each person voluntarily submits himself to standards of behaviour and ethical conduct beyond those required of ordinary golfers and members of the public.  The European Tour has been the hallmark of honesty, fair dealings, courtesy, and sportsmanship and each Member is bound to honour and uphold that tradition at all times whether on or off the golf course.”
It is essential for the integrity of the professional game that all its participants adhere rigidly to this aspect of the code.  Conduct such as that committed by Mr Dyson is a very serious matter, which in the appropriate case would warrant an immediate suspension from the Tour;
(b) the particular circumstances of the present offence.  Specifically:
(i) there is no history of misconduct on the part of Mr Dyson during his 14 years on the Tour;
(ii) the fact, as the Panel found, that Mr Dyson’s conduct on the occasion in question involved a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating; and
(iii) the fact that his conduct and the Panel’s decision will have caused and will continue to cause detriment to Mr Dyson.

5. Accordingly, the Panel decided as follows:
(a) to impose upon Mr Dyson a period of suspension from the Tour of two months, but to suspend its operation for a period of 18 months.  The effect of this is that, if during that 18 month period, Mr Dyson commits any breach of the Rules of Golf, his case will be referred back to the Panel to determine whether in the circumstances the suspension should immediately become effective.  If, however, at the end of that period, he has committed no such breach, then the threat of a suspension will fall away;
(b) to fine Mr Dyson the sum of £30,000;
(c) to order Mr Dyson to pay the sum of £7,500 towards the Tour’s costs of these proceedings;
(d) Mr Dyson is to make such payments within 56 days.

The Disciplinary Panel will in due course give detailed written reasons to the Tour and to Mr Dyson.  These detailed reasons will remain confidential to the parties.

No further statement by the Panel or any of its members will be made.

Fair verdict or not?