• Alistair Tait

What Would Bobby Jones Think?


Well done Jordan Spieth for taking some American fans to task for booing Europe’s Ryder Cup men yesterday. Sadly, it won’t stop the same numpties from booing again today and tomorrow.


It’s just not golf.


Neither are shouts of “go in the water” or “get in the bunker.”


Let’s be clear, it seems to be a minority of fans at Whistling Straits who are spoiling it for everyone else, just as a minority made Hazeltine horrible at times during the 2016 match. Actually, make that horrendous, so horrendous a local journalist told the entire European team he was embarrassed by the actions of some of his countrymen.


Let’s also be clear, American players were booed at Le Golf National (above) three years ago. It wasn’t as prevalent as it is at Whistling Straits, but there was booing in France nonetheless. However, it never even came close to the levels witnessed at Whistling Straits on the opening day of this Ryder Cup. As excellent Scotsman golf correspondent Martin Dempster writes:

“Golf in the U.S. and this event in particular seems to attract an audience that doesn’t understand golf or its values.
“No wonder the likes of Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele were raving about playing in front of respectful British galleries in the Scottish Open and The Open earlier this year.”

Let’s also be clear, there have on occasion been numpties attending The Open who felt the need to make horse’s you know whats out of themselves. Rory McIlroy was heckled and a fan was ejected from Royal Liverpool during the final round of 2014 Open. However, examples of boorishness in the game’s oldest major can be counted on the digits of one hand.


Dempster also notes, as I have previously noted, the difference between the Ryder and Solheim Cups. No booing at the latter. Maybe when matches are held in the United States the PGA of America might want to restrict ticket sales to those who’ve attended the Solheim Cup.


Can you imagine hearing fans boo at Augusta National during the Masters? Er, no. Any fan who steps out of line at Augusta is removed from the premises. Perhaps the PGA of America might want to emulate the Masters code of conduct to remind fans that golf isn’t like baseball, or football, or (ice) hockey where it’s de rigueur to shout inanities at opposing players/teams.


Or maybe the PGA of America might want to imprint the words of Bobby Jones, written in 1967, which head up every Masters Spectators Guide. Especially before the 2025 match in New York. 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.”

I wonder what Bobby Jones would make of the atmosphere at Whistling Straits. He must be turning in his grave.


#JustSaying: “I love the Ryder Cup and I don’t want to see it degenerate into a mob demonstration every time we play it.” Sir Michael Bonallack after the 1999 match

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