From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

Raging against golf’s ‘ill-mannered idiot’

Rory McIlroy’s comments regarding the increasing fan heckling and jeering at golf tournaments are spot-on (“Beers, jeers on Tour: Time to tighten tap?” March 20). We probably see only a very small percentage of this inexcusable behavior that allows us to live up to the label of “ugly American.”

The fact that this horrid behavior is alcohol-induced no doubt is partially true. Without getting into behavioral psychology, let’s just say that the booze serves as a fuse for an already established ill-mannered idiot. 

So why do we have to allow alcohol at golf tournaments where the fans are right on top of the players? Do we really need to be partially drugged to enjoy watching these professional golfers? I don’t think so.

If you need to party, go to your local bar, but stay away from golf tournaments – or any sports outing, for that matter.

Gary Radford
Fayetteville, N.Y.

 

Golf’s lost arts: Courtesy and respect

Thanks for the article on Rory McIlroy and liquor sales at PGA Tour tournaments. I read it aloud to my husband, and we agreed with every point.

We volunteered to marshal an event at Hazeltine National in 2009, and I can tell you from personal experience that I had to direct the ouster of an obnoxious “fan” at 9 a.m., during a practice round. It was utterly embarrassing for everyone.

As longtime golfers, we learned the courtesies of the game first, before we were allowed to play. Now, even at our own golf club, we have to deal with loud music coming from the cart in front of or behind us. Apparently, courtesy and respect are lost arts.

Thank you. I am sending this article to all of my friends.

Barbara Shaw
Plymouth, Minn.

 

Control the few uncontrollable fans

As a nine-year volunteer at the same Florida Swing event serving in the same location on the course every year – adjacent to one of the corporate hospitality venues – I can personally vouch for Rory McIlroy’s observations and comments.

In general, the people who come and go from this area are cooperative, and they respect the game and the players. My observation is that the ones causing the disturbances are not golf fans by any stretch of the imagination. Fans of free alcohol and perhaps a little food (not nearly enough), yes. There is no reasoning with these people, who usually are male and in their 20s and 30s. I’m sure they are there to have a good time, and it sure looks like they do, but they don’t have any self-control or filter.

As you point out, the hospitality venues are important to the tournament and fund-raising for the charities they support. So, I would never suggest that they be eliminated or that their service practices be significantly modified, but we need to do a better job of controlling the behavior of the minority of the guests who lack self-control and good judgment. I often wonder how these individuals make it home safely.

George Wright
Marietta, Ga. 

 

Give the marshals some credit

Steve Elling took an unnecessary shot at volunteers who work at professional golf tournaments. They pay for the privilege to volunteer, usually spend long hours on the course, pay their own expenses, and they provide a service for which the event sponsor would otherwise have to pay.

They are not supposed to provide security. 

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

 

Marshals need to intervene

I have been a marshal at numerous PGA Tour events and as such would make sure on my hole that such boorish, rude behavior would be first cautioned and pointed out. If continued, I would find security/police and have the person(s) ejected.

That is the responsibility of the marshal, whether retired or not, as I was instructed by the PGA Tour.

Jim Bishop
Lawrenceville, N.J.

 

Don’t look far on Tour to assess blame

The PGA Tour, players and their partners in the media need to look no farther than the mirror when assigning blame for the increasing lack of decorum among fans at Tour events.

For the past several years, we've been sold images of rowdy Ryder Cup fans and Phoenix Open-like galleries. Oftentimes, it has seemed that celebrating such behavior was seen as the path to attracting more viewers to TV screens and to the events themselves. In simple terms, you reap what you sow.

All is not lost, however. More can be done to police the crowds, and those exhibiting unwelcome behavior should be asked to stop or be escorted from the grounds. Over time, the message will be delivered that there is a limit to what will be tolerated.

Golf is a game built on etiquette, and as those in the business of golf have looked to “grow the game,” they’ve seemed willing to sacrifice that quality.

A wise person once said to me that “you teach people how to treat you” by what you are willing to accept from them. Unfortunately, we've taught the current generation of golf fans that we will accept a lot. It’s time for a mulligan on this one.

Doug Berry
Mohegan Lake, N.Y.

 

International matches boost vitriol

You’re missing one other development that has had an effect on decorum at golf tournaments: the increased vitriol of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches.

Once the Ryder Cup expanded into a U.S. vs. Europe match, things ratcheted up and the chants from the crowds, the biting comments among players, the gamesmanship, if one can call it that, all served to elevate these matches from competitive golf into some sort of jingoistic “war.” Fans saw and heard these comments and behavior, and they mirrored it.

Alcohol probably is a contributing factor, and cutting off some people may be a good idea, but the PGA Tour, PGA of America, the R&A, the Masters committee and other governing bodies coupled with tournament sponsors need to get involved in seriously examining what they have wrought. The Players Championship, with the island-green 17th hole, has had people rooting for balls to end up in the water for years. It happens at the Masters now, too, on No. 12 and other holes. On the one hand, it makes for good TV, but it also lends itself to the boorish behavior that we see today.

Just cutting off alcohol sales – say, no more after the last group makes the turn – would have a minimal effect without also addressing the behavior of the players at some tournaments, especially at the Ryder Cup and similar events.

Educating everyone – players and fans alike – on the need for decorum would be a good starting point. Ratcheting down the vitriol of what started out as friendly competitions but has escalated into the baser competitive matches that fed the alcohol-fueled monster being bemoaned now also must be addressed.

Frankly, Rory McIlroy has had a hand in that feeding.

Jeff LaCaze
Crosby, Texas

 

Tour hooligans need to be shaken, then stirred

I agree 100 percent with Rory McIlroy. The loudmouths who show up at PGA Tour events these days are a sad representation of what golf is and was intended to be. These Tour events should be serving up drinks that include two parts character, one part dignity, one shot of respect, poured over ice cubes of restraint in a tall glass of shut-the-hell-up.

Even at Ryder Cup matches, show a little couth and have a lemonade instead. Leave the drinks, the attitude, the slurred (and obscene) words for after the tournament, when you can open your mouth freely. Hopefully, there will be someone next to you who disagrees and throws a 100-mph elbow into the side of your head. Maybe then, after you wake up, you will realize that not everyone wants to hear your drunken expletives after a pro makes a swing.

Mashed potato? Really?

I got a hundred bucks that says 80 percent of these idiots are millennials, the same group pf morons that the golfing industry is trying so desperately to convince to go out and play golf at their local venues. Slow play, more beer, playing music from their iPhone in the cart, talking while someone is putting, yelling and chest bumps because they made par. The list goes on.

They have no respect for themselves and no respect for others.

Kenneth Taylor
Fort Worth, Texas

 

Post signs as first step

Curbing the sales of alcohol would not work. Where there is a will, there is a way.

I suggest posting signs to the effect that the use of inappropriate language would result in immediate expulsion from the course. This gives the marshals and any other security personnel the power to take action immediately. A few ejections would curb most of the offenders.

I am a fan first, and I have a family. I don’t want to hear some idiot spouting obscene diatribe just so he can be heard. Players deserve the same respect that you would want for your own family.

Mel Howsmon
Vancouver, Wash.

 

Trace blame to TPC Scottsdale’s 16th

No mention was made of TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but that is the granddaddy of boisterous, drunken golf venues, and it has been glorified by the press. Could that be inspiring the fans elsewhere?

Steve Branch
Fort Thomas, Ky.

 

Ban green-reading books

I agree completely with the article about Bryson DeChambeau and Henrik Stenson (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 20).

I would suggest that the books they use for reading the greens be eliminated. Not only do they slow down the pace of play, but they remove the art of reading greens and turn it into a science. I don't recall seeing Tiger Woods constantly staring at one of those books, and he always has been renowned for his ability to read greens. Reading greens is a learned skill, not a gift.

I recall during an LPGA event last year a player using the book for a 6-foot putt. All three announcers – two were former pros – agreed that they would like to see the books eliminated.

Mike Kluba 
Encino, Calif.

 

DeChambeau’s bracket-busting dawdling

While watching the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday on TV, I thought it was great that Bryson DeChambeau was in contention. He received a lot of live coverage because as long as he took over each shot, I was able to watch about 4 minutes of NCAA March Madness basketball each time.

Chuck Ludwig
Royal Palm Beach, Fla.

 

Tour’s slow play benefits viewers

Why are the readers getting worked up about slow play on the PGA Tour?

Slow play actually allows the broadcast’a director to cut away from the slower player to show someone else, and cut back to the slower player, live or on tape. It should allow more coverage of more players and more shots.

Now, if you want to talk about television coverage . . .

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

 

Cure for slow play? 60-minute video

The PGA Tour must provide the lead on slow play. Their golfers are the most visible. However, I am sure it is hard to impose a penalty when the officials know they don't see all golfers. Thus, penalizing the few that are visible is a problem. The imposition of a penalty would appear arbitrary, especially when they are not given very often.

Why not make the issue educational? Have the PGA Tour or USGA create a 60-minute video on pace of play issues and techniques on how to speed up play. Then, during a tournament, officials could issue warnings that would result in requiring the warned golfer to watch the video sometime following the tournament. It would be a lot easier to give warnings, with some mild consequence, than a one-stroke penalty. I think it would be effective. I remember having to watch four hours of traffic videos when I got a traffic ticket five years ago. I have not gotten a ticket since. It was impossible to fast forward through it.

Joseph J. Matula
Palos Park, Ill.

 

A wake-up call for Stenson

The last group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational took 4½ hours to play Sunday. From the first hole, they were a hole behind the group in front. However, the slow player was Henrik Stenson, and he is always not ready when it’s his turn.

John Sokolowski
Mount Joy, Pa.

 

Adding voice to the game

Your article about David Duval was excellent (“Duval rises to new heights behind mic,” March 5). We can always use another good golf commentator, one who has played and knows the game and isn’t afraid to pass on his comments. He doesn’t have to be as negative as Johnny Miller, who uses the “choke” word too often, but tells it like he sees it.

Chris Seyer
Crystal Lake, Ill.

 

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