Friday, April 10, 2009

New Golf Fans Need To Act Like Golf Fans

A fan screamed "It's in the hole!" 

The line was heard after Tiger Woods struck his tee shot at the par 3, 16th hole at Augusta National yesterday during the 1st round of The Masters.

"Oh, not at Augusta!" immediately followed from CBS/ESPN broadcaster Peter Oosterhuis.

I thought the exact same thing.

Golf is not baseball.  Golf is not football.  Golf is not basketball.  Golf is a game where men and women wear a uniform of slacks and collard shirts.  Golf is a game where dress shoes are spiked and the person with the greatest power to penalize your performance is yourself.  

Clean is the word I like to use when I talk about Golf.  It is the one game that I have always known that I would play for my entire life and The Masters is the most amazing event I've ever been to.  From Hogan's Bridge to Founders Circle to Amen Corner - the course is near heaven on earth.  

People often have asked me why do I get upset when Tiger Woods wins.  He's the best player in my lifetime.  Tiger has grown the game in a way that nobody thought an African American could worldwide.  There are more millionaires on tour now than ever before because of Tiger.   All this is true but it's the growth of the game that has concerned me.  Who is now coming to golf because of Tiger?  

The reason is why I get annoyed when Tiger wins is because it brings out THAT GUY - the one who yelled "It's in the hole" yesterday.  He's the guy who loves Tiger - not golf.  He thinks he is cheering at a sporting event.  No big deal right?  Well, it is.  Walking Augusta National last year was one of the greatest sports experiences of my life.  The beauty of the course and the elevation changes aren't done justice on TV.  You have to see it to believe it.  Every angle, every green, every fairway - just so clean.  Golf is different and those who don't get it either need to learn that's it's different or get out.  

The Masters is something special and it's sad that 1 fan can cause such a disappointing moment but I really hope that the new fans learn to love the game - not the player.  If you don't understand the etiquette - educate yourself.  If you don't know all the players - read about them.  Tiger Woods is 7 strokes back going into the weekend of the 2009 Masters.  His largest come-from-behind win of at the Masters was in 2005 where he came back from 6 strokes after 36 holes.  He is basically dead in the water but the tournament is setting up to be AWESOME.  Real golf fans will be watching every stroke.  

One final note - if you need someone to cheer about Anthony Kim.  11!! birdies today and 3 bogies.  He shot a 65 after a 75 yesterday.  10 strokes better!  The 11 birdies is the most EVER in a single round at The Masters.  If he just par'd those 3 holes he bogied - he would have shot a 62!  Course record.  

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