Tour Confidential: Are American golf fans out of control?
GOLF.com conducts a weekly roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and GOLF Magazine. Check in every Sunday night for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com.
1. Marc Leishman's wife, Audrey, wrote a blog post criticizing American fans for the way they treated International players at the Presidents Cup. She said she was "thankful my boys weren't there to see the way people were treating their daddy." Rory McIlroy also had a fan kicked out at Hazeltine during last year's Ryder Cup (he probably deserved it for his expletive-filled rant), and Sergio Garcia called the way that same Ryder Cup crowd acted "quite poor." Do we have a problem here?
John Wood, caddie for Matt Kuchar (@johnwould): Absolutely. I am working on an essay about this exact subject, and it's much too long to write here, but hopefully in the next few days it will be ready on GOLF.com. Stay tuned.
Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, GOLF.com (@Jeff_Ritter): John, that was a masterful way to request a deadline extension on your essay! A seasoned journalist couldn't have done it any better. And I agree. It's not the majority, but a few knucklehead fans have popped up in the past two U.S. team events and had a negative impact. Gotta clean that up. I'm just not sure how.
Sean Zak, associate editor, GOLF.com (@Sean_Zak): There's definitely a problem, but I'm not sure there's an easy solution. We want these team events to be fun, to be raucous and, more than anything, LOUD. So, we allow chanting on the first tee, players get into it; we allow the beer to flow and the celebrations to extend beyond the norm. I'm not saying it's right, but doesn't that make this result seem logical? Having one without the other seems a bit like fantasy land.
Josh Sens, contributing writer, GOLF Magazine (@JoshSens): I think what we have is a confluence of a few things: the longstanding tribalism of sports (and the loud idiocy of some fans); the massive media attention that now helps stoke these international rivalries; and the increasingly coddled world of the professional athlete. Sure, there's a lot of irritating (and offensive) noise out there. But if these golfers think they are up against unruly public treatment, they might consider what, say, Charlie Sifford dealt with when he was trying to scratch his way onto Tour.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Davis Love has been talking about this lately in a more general way. Golf is a place to practice restraint. That tradition is part of what makes the game what it is. So many things in society are so loose. Golf needs to get back in touch with its own standards of decorum.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): The folks who run the Cups can't have it both ways—they market jingoism, plaster flags everywhere, have military flyovers and other rah-rah displays of force, bring in alcohol companies as sponsors...and then demand restraint from the fans? The overcooked atmosphere is what makes the Ryder Cup fun. (The Presidents Cup less so.) It's a bummer when fans lose control but what do the players (and organizers) expect?