During the PGA Championship last weekend, I did something I’d never previously done in many years of watching golf on TV: I muted the volume.
I’ve managed to endure Peter Alliss rambling like a man talking to his pint glass and Mark Roe going for a walk up verbal cul-de-sacs more times than I care to remember.
But never had I turned the volume all the way down until last weekend – and it had nothing to do with the commentators.
The interminable, aggravating screams of ‘Baba Booey’, ‘Get in the hole!’ and various other high-pitched shrieking had become too much for me by the time the fourth round got underway at Baltusrol.
Take them to a golf tournament, fill them with light beer and they turn into adolescent attention-seekers.
Any time a player hit a shot, no sooner had the ball left the clubface than the competition to be the loudest moron got underway. Bear in mind that, in most cases, these are grown men doing the yelling. They’ve probably all got jobs, families and more than a handful of brain cells. But, for some reason, take them to a golf tournament, fill them with light beer and they turn into adolescent attention-seekers, all desperate to be heard on television. And, yes, they are almost exclusively American.
They’re like people who go to gigs, record the whole thing on their mobile phones, above, and then play it back for their friends the very next chance they get.
“Hey, look at this, what do you reckon?”
If one of my mates played me footage of them yelling ‘Baba Booey’ at a golf event, I wouldn’t be impressed. It’s golf's equivalent of chapping on somebody’s door and running away. It’s the kind of puerile nonsense you get up to when you’re a kid. A dumb, immature kid. Except you’re not a kid. You’re a grown man. A grown man who can’t handle severely watered-down lager.
These clowns are undermining the quality of the coverage and making it unlistenable.
On Monday morning, I emailed five of golf’s main professional organisations – two based on this side of the Atlantic, the other three in the States – for a comment on the ‘Baba Booey’ crowd and to establish what their policies are when it comes to unruly behaviour at events.
Two of them replied. No prizes for guessing which three didn’t.
The American orgs clearly don’t see this as a problem. If they did, they’d have found a way to tackle it by now. After all, it’s hardly new. But then again, why should we expect anything from bodies that (a) give out wrong pin position info and (b) inform players mid-round that they may or may not be penalised at the end of their round for an infraction that may or may not be an infraction?
Thing is, this behaviour is a problem. Golf is more than just a sport; it’s an entertainment business. Television is king. It’s where the money is at – but these clowns are undermining the quality of the coverage and making it unlistenable. Just ask Ewen Murray and Butch Harmon. Both drew attention to the problems with this behaviour during the final round PGA coverage on Sky Sports.
What we need is for them to do it more often. We need more players like Graeme McDowell to speak up about it. Maybe, just maybe, the hitherto ignorant bodies and promoters will do something about it.
To be clear, I’m not advocating we bring in the ‘Fun Police’. People should still be able to go to golf tournaments, have a few drinks and enjoy the experience. That’s how you generate atmosphere and is a vital part of creating a TV spectacle.
I just don’t believe a minority of attention-starved half-wits should be allowed to run amok and hijack the atmosphere for their own juvenile amusement.
Identify them, escort them from the course (no refund, obviously) and force them to seek their desperate gratification elsewhere.
This week I have been… reminiscing about the time I played golf with new PGA champ Jimmy Walker. That was a cool day.
It’s the opening ceremony of the Olympics tonight. The men’s golf event gets underway next Thursday followed by the women’s tournament the following week. Much has already been written about golf’s reintroduction to the Games, most of it quite uncomplimentary. Is it perfect? Far from it. The format sucks, the field has been compromised by the many high-profile withdrawals and that’s just for starters. But it’s here now and, in the absence of anything else better, let’s just sit back and try to enjoy it. Who knows? It might just surprise us.
Read more -> First look at the Olympic golf bags
And finally… Nike Golf’s decision to shut down its golf hardware manufacturing arm came as a surprise. Not because anybody thought that the ‘Swoosh’ was doing particularly well; more so because there had been no suggestion it was doing particularly badly.
Predictably, much of the talk has been about where its big ambassadors – Tiger, Rory & Co – will go next. I suspect that, wherever they go, the majority of them will continue to be continue to be successful and handsomely rewarded.
However, spare a thought for the poor folk at Nike Golf who are now out of work. Unlike the game’s top players, they don’t have the luxury of swollen bank accounts and a string of chequebook-dangling suitors. Instead, the majority of them are working folk, like you and I, with bills to pay and families to provide for. They are the ones who will suffer most from Nike Golf’s downfall. Good luck to them all.
Read more -> Nike Golf: Why It Collapsed
Michael McEwan / The Cut Line
Log-on every Friday morning to read The Cut Line, a weekly blog by bunkered's Michael McEwan.