The 2018 Golf Season hasn’t started for your faithful scribe because of multiple issues that I’m choosing to keep private for now (you can DM me on Twitter if you really want to know). This Winter That Will Not End is part of it. Having said that, for the pro tours it’s been full speed ahead. The list of winners on the PGA and LPGA Tours has been flat out impressive. Ratings are up, the game is in pretty good stead as we had for the first majors of 2018 (this week in Rancho Mirage, and next week at Augusta).
Unfortunately, we have to talk about a problem. Golfweek was the first to bring it up on a major platform a couple weeks ago, and again in this past weekend’s WGC Dell Matchplay we had an incident with a fan yelling in James Hahn’s backswing, and his reaction was what you might expect.
The problem is the golf fan who is equal parts over-served and over-entitled.
It’s bad enough when this so-called fan shows up at the Ryder Cup with a witches’ brew of faux-patriotism, intoxication and entitlement while consumed with the idea that screaming random crap in someone’s backswing is somehow acceptable (it’s not). For this to become a weekly occurrence (almost every week this is happening) is beyond inexcusable.
It didn’t start with recent Ryder Cups. We have John Daly’s fans to thank; it started out with them yelling “YOUUUDAMANNNN” as he’d unleash some gargantuan drive. And if that was the end of it, we wouldn’t be here. Unsatisfied with that simple bit of boorishness, it morphed into Howard Stern show time, with people yelling “BABABOOEY” (the nickname for show producer Gary Dell’abate). Then people just started yelling random crap (Mashed Potatoes being particularly popular), and it’s devolved to where we are now; a game of going one step further than the previous batch of idiots.
It’s one thing when it happens at the Waste Management Open (that event is a bit different and I’ve taken a “it is what it is” approach; players feel the same way), but it’s become a regular occurrence that lost its humor or novelty a long time ago.
When our drunk golf bro got on Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic, the answer should have been having the tournament host (that being Jack Nicklaus) give the guy the heave-ho. Or have Jack say something along the lines of “don’t act like a jerk at my event” if you will. Tiger doing the same at his event at Riviera would go a long way.
The price of a ticket entitles you to watch the best players in the world do what they do. It does not entitle you to disrupt other fans and yell in their backswing, or heckle them. This is golf, and it’s different.
What’s funny is that you don’t see this idiot at LPGA events, which for that reason alone makes them more watchable. The crowds are more knowledgeable and there to see great golf (I’ll admit I haven’t watched that much of the Champions Tour so I can’t comment).
So the PGA Tour has to start policing fans. It’s sad that we’re at this point, but we are. The thing about golf is that players police themselves, and for years fans could be counted on to do the same. This isn’t the case anymore. The Tour is going to have to start tossing people. Use CCTV footage. Marshals should be able to identify the guilty and send the guilty packing. Tickets should have verbiage that explains this policy and that they should expect to see it enforced.
Rory McIlroy suggested limiting alcohol sales would be a good idea (don’t disagree), but there’s nothing stopping Golf Bro from getting his (and it always his) load on in the parking lot. Having said that, the overall idea of monitoring the obviously over-served would do everyone a favor (start with ensuring they have a sober ride home).
Still disagree? You don’t see any of this at the Masters, and you hear the roars for great shots. See the difference? A roar when someone hits a great shot isn’t a bad thing. Talking trash to a player or distracting them in their backswing is pure garbage. Nobody is going to watch the Masters next weekend and think that some golf bro yelling ‘MASHED POTATOES’ in someone’s backswing is something they need.
SONG OF THE DAY
11 days until the start of the playoffs. This number from The Arkells…oh hell yes.