Comparing fan behavior at a golf tournament to what goes on at, say, a football game is like comparing elevator music to heavy metal.
But there’s one frequent feature of golf tournaments that’s so embarrassing, it disgusts me every time I hear it.
It’s the bozo who thinks it’s cute to yell something right as a player hits a shot.
“Get in the hole!”
Or something equally stupid.
I have some free advice for those people:
You sound like an idiot. Virtually all of the players hate it. Real golf fans are embarrassed by it. You no doubt get disgusted stares from people, or haven’t you noticed? Maybe you were too busy laughing about it with your buddies. If they like it, then they’re as oblivious as you are.
And about 99.9 percent of the time it’s not funny – especially if you’re going with the hackneyed get-in-the-hole line.
Look, I love a good joke as much as anyone. I appreciate an original, funny comment at a sports event. But the people who blurt out these stupidities obviously aren’t quality comedians.
This comes to mind because there were complaints about fan behavior during the Presidents Cup, just as there were last year during the Ryder Cup.
Both events took place in the United States. Now I realize that there have been similar objections about the fans’ reactions to bad U.S. shots when the Ryder Cup has been in England or Scotland, so it’s obvious that bad behavior travels well.
But the scream-on-the-shot syndrome seems more like an American thing. Its frequency has multiplied as it has become heard more often on golf telecasts, to the point where you almost expect it on every shot.
I know this sounds like the starched-pants golf version of “Get off my lawn!” But hear me out on this one, so to speak.
Golf and tennis are the only two sports where it is considered proper etiquette to be quiet while the player is attempting a shot, but both have had to deal with increased rowdiness in recent years.
In golf, some of the yellers have been escorted off the course. I wish that happened every time. Comments I have seen online indicate that golf fans wish tournament officials would do terrible things to the miscreants’ vocal cords before throwing them out.
Golf isn’t like other sports, and for that I am thankful. When I’m playing golf, I expect a certain standard of decorum from those around me.
I expect everyone to play by the rules, at least within reason. If someone has lost a ball and doesn’t want to walk all the way back to the tee to hit their next shot, no big deal. But honesty is an integral part of our great game.
I expect everyone to be nice to each other, again within reason. We can kid each other. That’s part of the fun. But there’s a big difference between lighthearted kidding and the outright taunting you see in other sports.
I expect everyone to not be disruptive. Excessive alcohol consumption, driving a cart recklessly, noise pollution and similar behavior should be grounds for expulsion. Period. There should be no gray area here.
There also should be a zero-tolerance policy for yelling on a player’s swing at a tournament. It should be right there on your ticket and on signs around the course: Do it once and you’re gone. No warnings. I’ll bet plenty of fans would be delighted to point out the offender.
Golf has bent over backward in recent years to try to increase its popularity. It desperately wants to fit in with mainstream sports.
But this is one way in which I think it’s OK to be different. I don’t want to go to a golf tournament and watch a football game break out. Sure, the beauty of golf is worth shouting about. Just not like this.