The Championship That Wasn’t — And Then It Was!
Earlier this month, the Crimson Cliffs boys golf team won the state 4A Championship in convincing fashion, beating second-place Orem by 16 strokes, led by Boston Bracken, who took gold medalist honors with an 11-under par score for the two-day event.
But Bracken's story is not just about golf. It's about integrity.
Bracken and his teammates were staying at a hotel in Salt Lake City for the event, which was being contested at West Valley City's The Ridge Golf Course.
After leading the pack the entire first day of the event and pulling away with a monstrous lead on the second day, something went terribly wrong near the end of the championship round.
Bracken's grandmother, Nancy McAllister picks up the story from here:
"He was -13 (for both days) heading to the 17th hole. We knew he was way ahead of the next place player, but Boston didn’t know where everything stood. As he birdied hole 17, we noticed something was wrong ... as he went over to talk to his coach.
"He talked to his coach for a good five minutes .. And then headed to the 18th hole with tears streaming down his face. It was then that his coach came over and told his parents that Boston told him that he had just noticed he had 15 clubs in his bag which is a penalty. His coach was under the understanding that it was a two-stroke penalty for every hole. Which would add 32 strokes to his score.
"Boston understood this was the case, but because of his unequivocal integrity, he didn’t even question what was the right thing to do. No one would have ever known he had an extra club in his bag."
He told the Deseret News, "Honestly, I thought it was a two-shot penalty for every hole. I had 15 clubs in the bag, cleaning up this morning in the hotel I put my 5 wood in the bag and did not take it out this morning. When we got to the 17th tee I realized, ‘Shoot, I got 15 clubs in my bag.’”
After amazingly firing a birdie on the final hole, Bracken went in to the tournament officials to report the violation, bracing himself for the impending penalty and the bad news.
McAllister picks up the happy ending to this saga from there:.
"High school golf follows the PGA rules, and that rule had been changed a year or so ago and the maximum penalty that a player can receive is 4 strokes. Boston was far enough ahead of the second place player with his now -11 score, to win first place and his team was also the state champions. How proud we are of his high integrity, his work ethic and golf talent. Today he became a man! He laid it all on the line!
Bracken showed in the moment that honesty and integrity are way more important than winning. As his coach, Cody Felts, told the Deseret News: "I don’t know how I could put into words what Boston’s done for our program. The kind of kid that he is, the kind of golfer he is ... I’m just so proud of him and his character for what happened today with the penalty and the 15 clubs."