You have to wonder why PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan took so long to see the light. You’d think someone on an enlarged seven-figure salary would have recognised long ago the PGA Tour had a problem with a small minority of fans who ruin it for everyone else because they’ve had six or seven beers too many.
You're a wee bit late to the golf etiquette party, Jay.
Maybe Monahan hasn’t spent much time out on the fairways at PGA Tour events. Perhaps he’s been too busy schmoozing potential sponsors to walk among the galleries. Maybe he hasn’t watched much coverage on television, and failed to hear the inane shouts of “mashed potato,” “get in the hole,” “babba booey” (what does that even mean?). Or did he just hit the mute button like the rest of us.
The PGA boss laid down the law yesterday on fan behaviour. Seems Bryson DeChambeau’s treatment after the BMW Championship alerted the man in charge to the fact behaviour is getting out of hand at PGA Tour stops. Henceforth, any fan who yells “Brooksie” at DeChambeau, or any other insults, will be tossed from PGA Tour stops.
“Golf is not immune from unfortunate and disruptive behaviour, although I would say that we do have the very best fans in the world,” Monahan said. “This is about just a few bad actors. … In some situations it's apparent that we have gotten away from the very civility and respect that are hallmarks to our great game.
“By coming to a PGA Tour event, you're expected to contribute to a welcoming and safe environment by refraining from and reporting any unsafe, disruptive, or harassing behaviour. Comments or gestures that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players, caddies, volunteers, officials, staff, or other spectators.”
It was hard not to laugh at Monahan’s words. Again, where’s he been lately? A small minority of fans displaying disruptive or harassing behaviour has been around for years. Yet, from now on:
“Fans who breach our code of conduct are subject to expulsion from the tournament and loss of their credential or ticket.
“I would ask our fans, again, the very best fans in the world, to take a moment and think about what it means to be a golf fan and to enjoy a PGA Tour tournament.”
The very best fans in the world? Surely if PGA Tour fans were the very best in the world then a minority of them wouldn’t need to be told to take a moment to consider their behaviour? Monahan wasn’t finished. Besides the threat of ejection, suddenly the PGA Tour is going to set the bar for other sports to follow.
“We're going to be leaders in this space. We're going to show everyone how easy it is to enjoy yourself at an event while also respecting the athletes in the field of play and the fans around you, many of whom are families with young kids who have a chance to be lifetime fans of the game themselves.
“Quite honestly, we should expect nothing less from each other, whether we're at a golf tournament or elsewhere in life.”
Still, I suppose it’s better late than never. Somewhere up in that great clubhouse in the sky, Bobby Jones must be saying “about bloody time!” Or the Georgia equivalent.
The vast majority of PGA Tour fans who know how to behave properly must be breathing a sigh of relief. Many others must be looking forward to watching PGA Tour events, especially final rounds, without having to hit that worn out mute button on the remote control to drown out the inanity.
Hmmm, wonder if Monahan’s lecture on good manners will filter through to a small minority of golf fans in Wisconsin who were looking forward to a wee bit of “disruptive or harassing behaviour” during the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits?
Let’s hope so. It’s never too late for golf etiquette lessons, but why did it take the most highly paid administrator in professional golf so long to act?
One thing's for sure, it's going to be hard to get this golf genie back in its bottle.
#JustSaying: “Individually, they are pretty nice folks. But get them together and they are about as miserable a bunch of people as you could ever have the misfortune to run into in a supposedly civilised world.” Tommy Bolt on British Ryder Cup fans