None of you are wrong, but my god, you are all very male. That's OK! But let me point this out: we've gone 1,000-plus words assuming that the term "golf" only encompasses "men," "gentlemen," and some iteration of "sportsmanship." The only women that have been mentioned are "topless cart girls" and Steve Williams' imaginary ex-girlfriend. I am not here to attempt to argue that Yani Tseng has the personality of Charles Barkley or that Paula Creamer could have her own talk show. But I do find it fascinating that "golf" is so inflated with a long tradition of masculine gentility that it changes the way we talk about it, and not just who watches it.
When I was a kid, my dad often commandeered the TV on weekends so that he could watch golf tournaments. He always invited me to watch, and I'd always sit impatiently for 5-10 minutes before loudly complaining about the pace and then bolting off to find another distraction. Years later, when I visited a friend who was studying at St. Andrews, I spent a day walking around the tiny town and inevitably found myself at the golf club. Or rather, outside of the golf club. I'm still not allowed in.
I don't watch golf, and I think the majority of sports fans not already represented in golf's main demographic (white men) don't watch golf—not because it doesn't have drama or jerk-narcissists (see: Tiger Woods), but because golf, more than any other sport, feels like an extension of the old-boys network. Like you need a cigar and a tumbler to even qualify for a set of clubs. I guess you were joking, Patrick, about golf actually having male posturing, but I'd argue that it really does. It's built into the sport; it's in the exact discourse that's been used in this roundtable. This game wants so badly to remain a gentleman's sport (to varying degrees, of course, as St. Andrews makes clear) and so badly to represent a century-old trah-dition of the game. Hampton, I appreciate what you're saying, and I agree with a lot of your points, but I think the dialogue about restoring and maintaining "dignity," "ancient values," and "humility" is just as complicated as demanding that golfers talk more shit to one another. It's the Good Men Syndrome. Look for it in every article about a baseball player that Sports Illustrated has had on its cover since 2005. Golf is very polite and well-dressed, but that's not really its problem.