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[Opinion] “Out of Bounds” Decision

Posted February. 23, 2005 16:58,   


Often, there are golf fans who, instead of enjoying the actual game, enjoy placing bets. Some who would not give a second thought to spending several million won for alcohol, report of insomnia after losing a mere 10,000 won in a golf bet. Business associates treating stately politicians or public officials to a game of golf will “naturally” lose money deliberately through bets. Legendary tales of betting golfers losing businesses, homes, and even their own wives are told. But there are also advocates who believe that moderate stakes in betting on golf enhance the focus on the game.

Recently, a judge declared a golf bettor who staked tens of billions of won innocent, claiming that the outcome of a game of golf relies on “the players’ abilities and talent, unlike cards or casino gambling.” This is surely good news for our golf high rollers, but goes against social conventions. Furthermore, the judge reasoned that “if betting on golf is gambling, professional ‘Skins’ golf games, in which the results of every hole determine the prize money, should be considered gambling.”

However, a game of golf is heavily laden with variables. There are professional golfers who have never aced a hole-in-one, whereas amateurs have been known to strike holes-in-one their first time on the green. LPGA star athlete Park Ji-eun, who has been swinging irons for nearly 20 years, succeeded in recording a hole-in-one only last year at a pro-am, while Pak Se-ri is still hoping. Likewise, the outcome of betting on golf does not necessarily correspond with a golfer’s handicap. Low handicaps could become sacrificial lambs for high handicaps, and there are cases of just plain bad luck when certain players clash.

In golf terms, OB (Out of Bounds) indicates a ball that has wandered out of field. If that is so, it is highly probable that the judge’s decision is going to bounce “OB”. The reason? The Supreme Court admitted to gambling huge sums of money in betting on golf. This is bound to get interesting, as prosecutors announced appeals, and the superior courts will soon be put on the spot. In golf, when a ball OBs, double comeuppances are up for grabs.

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com