Does Golf Need More Feuds?

Jake,

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?

–Patrick

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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