Does Golf Need More Feuds?



Golf doesn’t suffer from a lack of macho posturing. It’s just slightly sublimated. See stogies, cart girls and, well, topless cart girls. Plus the fixation on length. And shaft technology. And getting in the hole! Really, you could make the case that golf is the mas macho of sports, at least symbolically, less a good walk spoiled than a Freudian case study with azaleas.

But I digress.

Fact is, the sport labors under a corporate mindset. The taken-for-granted notion that once you enter the office&Mdash;or step onto a golf course&Mdash;the normal rules of interpersonal relationships do not apply. As in: Be a pro. Have class. Leave your petty grudges, burning jealousies and deep, everlasting desire to curb stomp that jackass from accounting in the clubhouse. Check your emotions; sublimate your humanity; fall into line; be a company man or woman, a no-drama cog in a frictionless machine. All of which is admirable, I guess. Assuming you’re Vulcan.

For the rest of us, it’s absurdly ridiculous. Or maybe just ridiculously absurd.

Take the tiff between Woods and Williams. In the golf world—a land of sportsmanship and rules and unicorns—the caddy’s longtime practice of snarling at Woods’ galleries and tossing spectators’ cameras into lakes was A-OK. Par for the course, even. But to take a few relatively mild, passive-aggressive public swipes at his former boss, who recently gave him a decidedly unceremonious heave-ho? Total decorum breach. Caddies aren’t supposed to feel. Or talk. Have you no shame, sir?

Then again, if Williams was sitting at a bar – and talking about an ex-girlfriend that mistreated and dumped him – you’d probably buy him a round. Or at least acknowledge that he had a right to feel both bitter and vindicated.

Indeed, one of the great things about other sports—where the corporate-like omerta is still strong, but not all encompassing—is that genuine emotions leak out. All the time, actually. And they aren't considered occasion to catch the vapors. Instead, they often function in theatrical fashion, as cathartic, entertaining proxies for our own familiar conflicts and conundrums. Remember last summer’s Shuttle ConeGate showdown between then-Washington lineman Albert Haynesworth and coach Mike Shanahan?

At the time, most Redskins fans saw Haynesworth as akin to the lazy grumbler at their office, the guy not pulling his (literal and metaphoric) weight. Me? I saw Haynesworth as a champion—albeit a really, really fat champion—for the kind of labor-management leverage most of us dream about. Either way, the tête-à-tête resonated in a way that typical training camp injury reports don’t, and was a heck of a lot more entertaining than anything Haynesworth did on the field.

As such, I submit that the PGA Tour needs more than spats. It needs jerks. Honest, public ones. Hampton, are you with me?


Jump to comments
Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

It's the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Entertainment

Just In