Shame on you, Todd Miller!
In a move that stunned golf fans around the country, Brigham Young University golfer Todd Miller, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a returned missionary, withdrew from the Utah Mens State Amateur Golf tournament, after refusing to play the final round on Sunday.
What this means is that his opponent, Clark Rustand, also did not get to play on Sunday, and won the round by default, something, I’m sure, he did not want to do. He wanted to play. This is not the victory he desired.
So why would Miller do such a thing? “What I do on Sundays is more important than golf,” Miller was quoted as saying at the time, according to an article from the Associated Press.
So why did he sign up at all? By signing up, he entered into a contract with the tournament and the other golfers. If he knew the final round was on Sunday—as he obviously did–and he also knew he would not be willing to play on Sunday, why was he there at all?
After listening to an impassioned plea by his father, professional golfer Johnny Miller, I think I know why he did it. Miller senior once stated he wanted to lead a tournament in the PGA and then withdraw on Sunday just to make a statement. In the news conference I watched, Johnny Miller, emotion choking his voice, told the news media that golfing on Sunday was not right, and that all golfers should be ashamed that they had allowed it to go on for so long. Here, I have to ask, golfing on Sundays is not right according to whom, Mr. Miller? The Mormon Church?
Now, while I appreciate that Mr. Millers Senior and Junior have the right to worship as they please, what right do they have to push that on to the rest of the world, or in this case, the state? As a faithful Mormon, young Mr. Miller should have declined to play in the tournament at all, realizing that should he continue on, he would be required to play on Sunday, something that went against his beliefs. That would have been the appropriate thing to do. That would have been the Christian thing to do. But it certainly lacked the splash he got from the actions he chose to take. No one would have noticed. Johnny Miller wouldn’t have had a press conference, because no one would have been there to listen. Todd Miller would not have been able to make a stance against playing on Sunday.
Now, Clark Rustand has been denied the thrill of victory, achieving his win only through default. Rustand, another BYU golfer, and also Mormon, was willing to play on Sunday. But it was not to be.
There is an arrogance about Utah Mormons that other Mormons across the country do not share. Here, where the majority rules, and our state laws and legislature are ruled surreptitiously by the Mormon hierarchy, the faithful LDS are used to getting their way. This was one instance where they did not. Did Todd Miller make a statement? I believe he did. I doubt, however, it was the statement he intended to make. Both he and his father wanted the rules changed to suit their religion and their beliefs. Instead, Todd Miller violated the rules of fair play, and dashed the hopes of one other Utah amateur golfer.
While I applaud Todd Miller for standing true to his religious beliefs, he did not thoroughly consider his actions. This is something that will long have reverberations for him throughout his career.