Did you watch the US Open yesterday? Golf is an odd sport to watch. For the most part, it’s the same thing with different players, as the coverage switches from group to group until near the end of the tournament, there are less and less players on the course, so there are more and more commercials.
In other sports, when the opposing team comes onto the field/pitch/ice, the home crowd will boo and jeer their disdain for the players. In golf, it seems that everyone roots for whoever makes a good shot, lets out a disappointing “ohhh” when the ball ends up in a bunker/water hazard/ penalty area, and cheers in delight for the winner.
There are sports teams and players that people love to hate, but it is rare that a fan will publicly razz a golfer during a tournament. I suppose that the politeness and etiquette of the game contribute to the spectator’s behavior.
That being said, there are places where the crowd is more raucous. The mobbing of Phil Mickelson on 18 at the PGA Championship earlier this year is a good example. The stadium hole at the WM Pheonix Open (I believe it is the par 3 16th), where 20 000 fans will boo if the player fails to hit the green, is entertaining—and obviously sells more beer. What does WM stand for? Waste Management. Ha! During this Sunday’s round, a fan ran onto the 13th fairway and proceeded to hit a few balls. The empty case of beer beside the cart path probably explains that.
The first person to yell “IN THE HOLE!” after a tee shot started an annoying trend that isn’t funny anymore—especially on a par 5. If you mistime it, it really makes the player angry. The first time I heard someone yell “Dy-No-Mite!” when the golfer (not the comedian) Jimmy Walker teed off, I had to laugh, but thankfully that never caught on.
I assume that the PGA, like all sports, is trying to attract younger fans. But if you think that it does sometimes look like a scene from Happy Gilmore, you wouldn’t be far off (It is a pretty funny movie unless you don’t like Adam Sandler, but if you only have to watch one of his movies, this one is a good choice—or The Wedding Singer). Tin Cup is another golf movie that shows the less reserved side of the game.
While they may not be as entertaining from a sociological standpoint, there are tournaments that are more reserved than others. So, a few more weeks until The Open Championship and a return to a bit more civility.
Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.