Is the truth worth $410,400? For Brian Davis, it is.
He is a professional golfer who found himself on the cusp of winning his first pro tournament last Sunday. Playing a sudden-death playoff hole and tied for the lead, victory was in his sight.
On a key shot, however, he noticed in the corner of his eye a small reed protruding from the ground behind him. As he began his swing, his club brushed the reed. No one saw it. But Davis knew it.
He also knew golf rules stipulate that making contact with an object such as that reed is an infraction costing the player two strokes. He informed the course referee, accepted the two-stroke penalty and thereby handed his opponent the tournament championship. Davis came in second, earning more than $600,000 to the winner’s more than $1 million.
Golf is a game steeped in etiquette and adherence to the rules to the extent that calling a penalty on oneself is expected of all players. Still, in pro sports as well as business and other human endeavors, it’s become rare to sacrifice success for telling the truth when no one would know. One can dress up a pig with terms such as white lie, fib or concealing the truth, but it’s still a pig.
Sunday’s golf tournament presented a refreshing sign from the sports world and a lesson to everyone that ethics matter. Living in the truth by acting with honor, whether or not anyone would know the true circumstances of the moment, is its own reward.
No accolades or trophies are worth telling the truth. A person’s dignity is worth more than that. Even more than $410,400.