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  • Alistair Tait

A Game We're Not Familiar With

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Call me old fashioned, but perhaps it’s time the PGA Tour adopted Bobby Jones’s wisdom when it comes to advice to some golf fans. Bryson DeChambeau would certainly appreciate that.

DeChambeau is obviously a marmite character. No matter what anyone thinks of him, though, he doesn’t deserve the treatment he received after losing a six-hole playoff to Patrick Cantlay in the BMW Championship. As ESPN”s Kevin Van Valkenburg noted, DeChambeau’s day got worst when he trudged off the final green.

“Halfway up the hill, something happened that made me feel like we've arrived at a miserable place in the never-ending circus that is DeChambeau. A patron waited until DeChambeau had walked by, but was not out of earshot, then sneered from over the rope line, "Great job, Brooksie!" DeChambeau spun around in a rage and began briefly walking in his direction.
“‘You know what? Get the f--- out!’ DeChambeau yelled. He had rage in his eyes.
“I'm being dead serious when I say it could have gotten ugly really fast,” Van Valkenburg added. “A rope line is little more than a polite suggestion when it comes to security at a golf tournament. DeChambeau had been hearing, and ignoring, that kind of taunt all week. But everyone has their breaking point.
“Thankfully, DeChambeau paused, angrily motioning for a police officer to handle the heckler, then continued his march up the hill. The entire exchange took less than 10 seconds. The PGA Tour declined comment when asked about the incident by ESPN. But we've been building to something like this all summer. And I don't know what the endgame is.”

None of us do, which is why the PGA Tour needs to act swiftly so things don’t get out of hand.

This sort of unsavoury incident is the last thing golf needs, especially with a Ryder Cup on the horizon, when jingoistic passions can get seriously out of control. I’ve seen that first hand on too many occasions. It’s not pretty when golf fan shout obscenities at players. Yes, obscenities.

And lest anyone think I’m picking on American fans, I’m not. I walked all 18 holes when Rory McIlroy won the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Yobbishness was evident in a small minority of fans, hence the reason six police officers ended up walking with McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, with one fan ejected from the golf course. Furthermore, the small minority of fans who booed American players during the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National didn’t do our game any favours either.

Fortunately, most golf fans know the etiquette of the game. Sadly, some, those who can’t hold their liquor, spoil it for the majority. They need either to be rooted out of the game, or educated that this sport doesn’t tolerate yobbish behaviour.

Here’s a wee suggestion. How about passing on the advice every Masters patron receives? The words of Bobby Jones, written in 1967, head up every Masters Spectators Guide. Jones wrote:

“In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play … most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player.”

The yob who cheered DeChambeau’s playoff loss wouldn't last five minutes at Augusta National. Ditto for those who scream “get in the hole,” “mashed potato” and other inanities, those who disturb players as they address the ball. Masters patrons know how to behave. If they don’t, they’re not invited back.

Maybe it’s time for the PGA Tour to pass on Jones’s wisdom to those who support a game we’re not familiar with.

#JustSaying: “Bobby Jones was more of a human being than the headlines during his career would have led you to believe.” Charles Price


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