Golf and baseball have a very similar challenge, and it didn’t hit me until Steph Curry played in the Web.com event in Hayward last week.
After making a long birdie putt, Curry dialed up his inner Jordan Spieth and yelled to his caddie, “Go get that!”
Spieth’s now famous putt in The Open Championship was for eagle, of course, but his reaction brought to mind something that has been missing from our great game for far too long.
Could someone please look happy when they do something great?
I mean really, really happy. Ecstatic, even. Like yelling and screaming and fist-pumping and hugging your caddie and high-fiving the crowd.
That kind of happy.
Is it OK to celebrate? That has become an issue in baseball, where anyone who has the audacity to flip their bat after hitting a home run often gets a fastball thrown at their head their next time up.
But I didn’t realize how devoid pro golf had become of unbridled joy until I saw the response to Spieth’s celebrations after holing out from the bunker to win the Travelers Championship playoff and then putting on a four-hole spree for the ages to win at Royal Birkdale.
People noticed. People liked it. It’s as if we’re collectively saying, “Hey! Give us more of that!”
I’m tired of the unsmiling tip of the cap after a 40-footer goes in. I want emotion. Don’t tell me it will throw off your game. That’s nonsense.
And spare me any talk of annoying your playing partners. We have to get over that. This is one way where golf doesn’t have to have the same code of ethics as baseball.
To me, we all should share in celebrating a big moment on the course. This game is hard sometimes. It can beat you down. When you show the course who’s boss for a change, that feels like a victory for all of us.
Yes, I know that’s not exactly what you’re feeling when your opponent makes a seemingly impossible shot to break your heart and maybe even your wallet. I get it.
But get over yourself. When someone does something great out there, they deserve to celebrate. Maybe if the pros did it more often, we’d all realize that it’s perfectly fine.
I like the fact that watching a golf tournament is nothing like watching a football or basketball game. I don’t want to be yelled at while watching golf. I want to hear intelligent analysis. I want to feel the players’ pain when they do everything right and still don’t make birdie.
But I also want to feel their joy when they come through in a big way. I want to see it in their face, hear it in their voice. I want to laugh as they make the crowd feel part of it, too.
Now, as we all know, golf and baseball share another problem – people think the game takes too long. Both are addressing that, baseball by trying to eliminate unnecessary breaks, golf by encouraging people to play fewer holes here and there.
And while I keep hearing chatter that people would like to see baseball loosen up its no-fun code, I can’t recall the last time I heard that about golf.
So the next time you knock one on the green from out of the junk or hole out from the bunker or drop a big putt, you have my full permission to go as crazy as you like. Even if you’re my opponent in a match. You earned it.