Does Golf Need More Feuds?

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Tiger Woods's caddie has publicly turned against him. Could this kind of drama be good for golf?

tiger woods stephen williams 615.jpg

Tiger Woods and now-former caddie Steve Williams in 2002

Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin), talk about golf's milquetoast image and whether it needs some scuffing-up.


Hey, guys,

SIZZLING NEWS from the golf world as Tiger Woods and former caddie Steve Williams's post-breakup sniping turns ugly! After Williams's new client, Adam Scott, won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the disgruntled Kiwi said it was the best week of his 33-year career and took a few more digs at Tiger in the post-match press conference...

Oh, sorry guys. I fell asleep.

The non-spat highlights one of golf's 21st-century image problems—not enough quality feuds. Sports have always been a fertile ground for held grudges and creative trash-talking. Just look at Shaq vs. Kobe, Billy Martin vs. George Steinbrenner (bonus points for being part of the same franchise), McEnroe vs. Connors, and any number of famous feuds. While some of the sniping was lame (Kobe vs. Bruce Bowen), and some of it contrived by the media (Jeter vs. A-Rod), simmering, nasty relationships make for quality sports viewing the same way that "Flavor of Love" makes for can't-miss television.

Meanwhile, golf's "spats" look more like this. Perhaps because of its genteel roots or its depersonalized setup—golfers are competing against the course as much as their opponents, after all—the sport has just not bred a lot of nasty invective. The few controversies that have occurred in recent years have either been lame (the "Tiger Who?" hat worn by Vijay Singh's caddie) or uncomfortably racist (Fuzzy Zoeller).

Ironically, golf's lack of macho posturing actually makes me like it more. But I'm one of the dwindling minority of Americans that actually enjoys watching the game on television. Give me a cut seven-iron over water to a back right pin placement or a downhill, double-breaking 30-foot putt any day—that's scintillating to me. But for everyone who puts on golf when they want to take a nap, the dearth of good old-fashioned nasty rivalries just accentuates just how boring the sport is to them.

Patrick, are you yearning for a real PGA Tour spat?

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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