Golfer David Toms Exercises Monumental Integrity and Preserves His Self- Respect

October 11th, 2011
Jim Thomas


 Performance with unbending Integrity has more than one legitimate motivation. One, however, outranks all others—a determination to maintain one’s self-respect. Writing in the New Republic, Brad Blandshard observed that self-respect “…is the most powerful of motives for it is what no one can afford to lose; we try to be what we really admire because if we do not we despise ourselves.”

 Toms, a consummate professional on the PGA tour affirmed Blandshard’s tenet at the 2005 British Open, one of the game’s most prestigious events. That year it was played at the renowned Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland. That year Toms held one of the tour’s hottest hands. He was a leading contender to win the Open. That is until an unwanted occurrence came to light.

 On the morning of the Second Round, Toms came forward and made a startling revelation. He informed tournament officials, and later the press, that he might or might not have committed an error on the famous Road Hole. If he did, he should have taken a penalty stroke. Toms reported that once on the green, he missed a medium-length putt, then strode to the pin and tapped it in. He could not say for sure, but the ball may have wobbled in the wind. Placing a club on a moving ball called for a one-stroke penalty. No player or official at the scene caught it. He had no one to ask

 Toms disqualified himself from a major championship, in which he had chance of winning, with a lot of money on the line. The officials instructed Toms the call was up to him, since they could not verify one way or the other. He, himself, never doubted his disqualification. In his book, How, Dov Seidman describes his telephone interview with Toms as he made his way back home home to Louisiana from Scotland.

  Among other things said Toms, “Whether there was a breach of the rules or not, there was a doubt. I did not want to live with it; my conscience is clear because I felt like I did the right thing.  Sportsmanship in golf is on a different level. Whether I had won, or even made the cut, it wouldn’t have been fair to the rest of the field, and it certainly wouldn’t have been fair to me because I would have had to live with it forever.”

 Toms drives home a basic tenet of Integrity: it require individuals, professionals of every stripe, business executives, corporate managers, and organizations of all kinds to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons—even when there is no absolute demand to do so. In this fashion, the priceless capital of trust, confidence, purpose, credibility, and reputation is established and maintained.

 To assist in management of this kind of capital, Alliance for Integrity, LLC offers free of charge and costs two working tools: An Integrity Checklist and An Integrity Credo. Both are easily adjusted to your particular circumstances. Contact


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