News & Opinion

Why golf fans tend to anger more than other sports’ followers

Golf fans with cellphones
Other than behind the gates of Augusta National Golf Club, cellphones have become ubiquitous at golf tournaments, providing an instant outlet for invective or other performance critiques.

Study finds that golfers prove to be surliest on social media, which, as we know, can pose a hazard more penal than anything on course

A new study has revealed that fans of golf essentially are the road-rage drivers of sports enthusiasm. Let’s allow that, in this instance, “study” is a word that might carry a disproportionate amount of weight. 

This examination does not come from MIT, New England Journal of Medicine or even J.D. Power and Associates. 

This analysis, “The Most Heart Racing Sports,” was conducted by Onlinegambling.ca. The project included two segments. In one phase, the trial group consisted of 40 men, which is smaller than an NFL team roster and partial enough to get Dr. Seuss censored. Still, it’s interesting.

The exercise synched the subjects to heart monitors and had them watch various sports. The monitor showed that fans watching NFL action demonstrated the biggest response. For context, a normal resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. This somewhat-less-than-clinical inquiry found the peak rating for a fan watching the NFL to be 137 bpm. 

Keep in mind that a 2019 Harvard study of heart rates showed a man’s heart rate rarely climbs above 130 beats per minute “during sexual intercourse.” Now, there’s a line in there somewhere, but not a Morning Read editor alive would let it pass … so we’ll just move on. 

By the way, golf might as well have been the placebo in this part of the research. That is, fans watching golf registered a high of 97 bpm, which ranked 12th among the sports, one tick below darts and just above cycling.

That sounds about right, particularly if J.B. Holmes and Bryson DeChambeau were playing in the foursome. But golf was more prominent in the “angriest fans” portion of the study, which looked at more than 6 million sports tweets. 

Despite the relatively passive pulse readings, supporters of golf were found to be the surliest fans on social media. That’s right, 42 percent of all tweets about golf could be classified as “angry comment.” The next-grumpiest group, football fans, finished a distant second, with only 26 percent of their tweets landing in the “angry” category. 

This might catch some off guard, notably people who think of golf as a well-mannered, sophisticated activity. But for those of us familiar with epic club tosses, biblical flare-ups and meltdowns to make Christian Bale blush, it’s not at all surprising.

After all, the most famous golfer of our time, Happy Gilmore, had serious anger issues. Vexation kind of comes with the territory. As Jack Benny once said, “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner … and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.” 

Think about it. Despite all the technological advances, innovations in equipment and advances in agronomy, the National Golf Foundation tells us the average golf score is still 100, as it has been for decades. In short, fans of golf have a lot of reasons to be indignant, and here are just a few:

  • Yes, there have been innovations and a number of satisfying rule changes recently. But the hole is still too darn small!

  • This reporter has been crouched next to a green, blocking the view of fans who arrived at 5 a.m. to position their chairs and claim the territory, and he can offer first-hand testimony that comments are angry in nature. And that said, it’s getting awfully hard to see around DeChambeau.
  • John Daly’s graffiti outfits. Why, John, why? 
  • Let’s be honest: It’s practically impossible to get Jose Maria Olazabal’s name right.  
  • The Callaway Epic Max driver is going for $529.99. C’mon, man!
  • Banked shots off a big blue wall … sounds like a Lucinda Williams song, not a golf scenario.
  • Cellphones.
  • You try accounting for Nick Faldo.
  • Johnny Manziel announced he is shifting his focus from pro football to pro golf. 
  • Still can’t believe it: Tom Watson at Turnberry, middle of the 18th fairway. Oh, the humanity.
  • People talking to their ball. It doesn’t speak our language. It’s not listening, and a slice is not going to “get left” no matter how much you beg.
  • When’s the last time you saw a beverage cart come by? 
  • Do we really need to ask what club someone hit after he missed the green on a par 3? The answer is, no.
  • Eight practice swings followed by a topped ball. Seriously?
  • Unsolicited swing tips from playing partners.
  • Online gambling studies.
  • Merchandise-tent detox.

  • It's a putt, not a treasure map. Go ahead, live dangerously and hit the thing.

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