Thought for the Day
If you continue working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day
It’s time to stop pussyfooting around and recognise that golf has a problem, and that problem is American golf fans. Justin Thomas recently had one ejected from a tournament – the Honda Classic he went on to win. The ‘fan’ had yelled for Thomas’ ball to go into water, and then yelled again for it to find a bunker, after which the golfer asked the gallery: ‘Who said that? ‘When the man was identified, Thomas told him: ‘Enjoy your day buddy, you’re gone,’ and had the culprit evicted.
The only regrettable aspect of Justin Thomas’ behaviour is that the following day he tweeted an apology in a series of tweets, as follows:
‘Getting a lot of comments on the fan incident yesterday… sorry to any and all offended by it. There was more said as we walked to the tee wishing bad things on the course for myself or Luke [List, with whom he was paired]. Then the get in the bunker comment over and over again I felt…
‘…it was very understandable to have him escorted out. I never want to lose fans, or have people root against me. I just didn’t see a place for that particular person to be yelling at us things that weren’t necessary over and over again. I over reacted…
‘…and should not have had him kicked out. I feel bad for it, but was more doing so because again I felt the stuff he was saying was completely unnecessary. I love all my fans and to hear that I’ve lost quite a few bc of that, isn’t fun. So I’m sorry to all!’
Don’t apologise Justin, the first couple of tweets are absolutely correct and you were thoroughly justified in having the jerk removed. Only the week before Thomas had complained that the raucous galleries at the bear-pit of an event that is the Genesis Open were getting out of hand but here he’s on shakier ground. The event has evolved as an antidote to the general air of reverence attached to golf events and fans are encouraged (often by the players) to shout encouragement and rain beer cans onto the course in appreciation of a particularly good shot.
It’s not something I enjoy seeing but heck, it’s one week a year, players know what the atmosphere will be like so if they don’t like it they can stay away. But even at this event the authorities and players are beginning to question how much is enough.
Danny Willett received sickening abuse at the last Ryder Cup because of ill-advised and frankly stupid comments written by his brother the week before about fans (which were therefore proven to be accurate). Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia said of the same event that American players were having to police the galleries and that many of the comments made by xenophobic supporters were unacceptable.
It reached the point where the PGA of America was obliged to issue the following statement: ‘We are encouraging all spectators on Sunday to be passionate and support their team in a way that is respectful to those around them, the players, and the Ryder Cup. Our security staff will continue to enforce a zero tolerance policy, removing from the course any fans who are disruptive in any way, including the use of vulgar or profane language directed at the players.’
In October last year John Woods, who caddies for Matt Kuchar wrote on the Golf website about fans’ behaviour during the Presidents Cup. As Adam Hadwin, on the International side prepared to hit a wedge on the 9th hole, a spectator shouted: ‘Hit it in the water, you Canuck!’
Woods wrote: ‘As an American caddie for an American golfer, there is nothing I enjoy more than representing my country. I’ve been a part of 12 Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, plus one Olympic team. I’ve been luckier than I could have ever imagined, and those events mean more to me than anything else I’ve done in my career. I’m so thankful.
‘But during the last couple of team events in the U.S., I’ve noticed a troubling trend: harsh treatment of opposing players by a small but increasingly vocal and aggressive group of fans.’
Team competitions, in which national pride is at stake, always carry a greater emotional weight and the possibility that this may spill over to objectionable levels is always there. But this obnoxiousness is now permeating routine tour events in America. The mindless inanity of screaming ‘Get in the hole!’ or ‘Mashed potato!’ or something equally asinine has inevitably developed to the point where any spectator feels emboldened to shout anything at any time. How long before a watcher who has bet a large amount of money on a particular golfer, starts screaming at the top of the backswing of one of his rivals?
Fans in Europe aren’t exemplars of manners, etiquette or saintly behaviour but usually manage to respect the golfers at work. In America their growing hostility and assumed right to shout whatever they want at whoever they want is a very real and growing problem.
Quote of the Week
As every golfer knows, no-one ever lost his mind over one shot. It is rather the gradual process of shot-after-shot watching your score go to tatters… knowing that you have found a different way to bogey each hole