The court of public opinion has delivered its verdict in the Patrick Reed bunker tampering case.
Reed’s actions on the 11th hole of the Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas – where he twice moved sand behind the ball with practise swings – have been deemed intentional and wrong.
The court of public opinion is a less than rational place, of course, and one would be hesitant to put full faith in it.
But it is also an important space for golfers who derive their income from what is the entertainment industry.
In the Reed case there was no shortage of outrage and, a little like Matt Kuchar in recent times, much of that is based on personality.
Many already don’t like Reed and that adds intensity to the outrage in a way that might not be the case for a more popular player.
In this instance, even other golf professionals have weighed in – an unusual outcome – with Jamie Donaldson, Eddie Pepperell and Gary Evans among those to Tweet strong opinions about Reed and his eventual two shot penalty.
Beyond the specifics of the Reed case, the Bahamas incident brings into sharp focus some important questions for the game about the rules and intent.
Reed’s defence was twofold: that the club was further behind the ball than the camera angle made it appear and that from his view above, he didn’t know he had disturbed the sand.
For all the dismissal of that explanation and the associated forensic study of the video in an attempt to ‘prove’ Reed wrong, the truth is nobody but the player actually knows.
Reed may well have known exactly what he was doing. Lots of people certainly believe he did, and have said so publicly.
But he may also be genuine in his explanation and no matter whether you believe him or not, it is impossible to prove otherwise.
There are similar arguments to be made about the long putter and anchoring, an issue that has plagued the Champions Tour the past two seasons given the success of Scott McCarron and Bernhard Langer.
Both are regularly called on to defend themselves and their use of the long wand accusations they are anchoring but under the rules if there is no intent to commit the breach, there is no penalty.
Golf is a game that has always relied on self-policing and the integrity of its competitors to maintain a fair playing field.
It is a facet of the game golfers take great pride in and while it would be naïve to believe there is no cheating at any level it would also be wrong to think the practise is rife.
Ultimately, it comes down to the intent of the player and, like it or not, continuing to take players at their word is a cornerstone of the game and one for which we would all be poorer if it was removed.