OPINION: Time to cheer up, golfers

Cheer Up Golfers

Slow play, backstopping, Sergio and Bryson’s fits of pique, rules confusion, governing bodies falling out with players on social media, that whole ‘Matt Kuchar/El Tucan’ stramash, gimmes not given – golf has endured a rather bruising start to 2019. 

All of these black eyes, it should be noted, have been self-inflicted. There’s nothing about any of these incidents that couldn’t have been avoided, and that’s hugely frustrating.

Even more so are the widespread implications of this catalogue of self-harm. People who don’t know better observe these events from afar and either form infuriatingly misplaced new opinions about the game or fortify existing ones.

“See?” they insist. “I told you golf is stuffy / sexist / backwards / run by dinosaurs / rooted in the dark ages.” Delete as applicable. This, in turn, fuels the seemingly ubiquitous myth that golf is something you don’t want to get involved with.

• "How I've learned to be okay with being 'just another rubbish golfer'"

It’s nonsense, of course. Absolute manure perpetuated, in part, by cynics who have little more than a superficial knowledge of the game. They sit and sermonise with unwarranted conviction about a game they know little about.

They, though, are the least of the problems. Those closest to the game – those who play it, follow it, report on it, watch it and so on – are equally as guilty of talking it down all-too-often.

They huff, puff, roll their eyes, tut impatiently, and then log-on to social media to share their frustrations with the world.

Social Media

Social bloody media.

Great in so many ways; terrible in arguably even more. Beyond the harmless pics of people’s dinner, kids, pets and holidays, there is a vast, permanently outraged echo chamber where every voice and every thought strains to be heard.

Golf regularly takes a battering on these platforms. It’s this, it’s that, and seldom are this or that good things.

Thing is, if you’re so inclined, you can find fault with every sport. Take football. If I was put in charge of FIFA for the day, I wouldn’t waste a minute. From the trivial (a ban on the unnecessary nonsense that is squad numbers) to the more serious (a straight red card for diving), I’d ring the changes loud and proud. There’s so much about the beautiful game that I find ugly. Doesn’t mean I don’t love it, though.

• "The day I realised the brutal truth about my game"

Where football and golf differ is that football doesn’t need to work as hard to get people playing it and, in any event, has evolved beyond the point where the sport is dependent on grassroots participation. Golf isn’t there yet. Not by a long stretch. That’s why it needs more positive PR.

Such a thing shouldn’t be too much to ask and yet it often seems as though it is. Maybe it’s a cultural issue, an indictment of a society predisposed to dwell on the things it doesn’t like more than the things it does. If that is indeed the case, it’s a shame – but not beyond fixing.

Range Balls

Golf has a multitude of values that deserve to be extolled. It’s great for your health (both physical and mental); you don’t need to have a particularly high level of anaerobic ability to participate; it’s multi-generational; it’s wildly addictive and rewarding. I could honestly fill the pages of this magazine with everything that is great about the game.

Does it annoy me? Of course.

Infuriate me? Regularly.

Make me want to tear out what is left of my hair? You bet.

But, and I suspect this is true for most people who routinely bump their gums about it, I’d rather have it than not. A life without golf doesn’t sound like much of a life.

• "I owe Tiger Woods an apology"

So, what do we do? How do we move forward? Simple: we strive for balance. I’m not for a second suggesting we stop pointing out the areas in which golf needs to improve. I’m suggesting that we don’t resist pointing out the good things about the game for fear of being labelled a sycophant. Taking pleasure in something isn’t lame, no matter what anybody says.

These days, it seems as though it’s easier to be critical than complimentary. That’s pretty sad. Surely there’s room for both? Because here’s the problem: if we keep telling the outside world that the game is 'negative this' or 'rubbish that', we can hardly complain when the world listens and responds in kind.

Golf, to paraphrase the late, great Arnold Palmer, is perfect in its imperfection. Isn’t it about time that we all, collectively, started to revel in rather than lament that fact? If we do, who know, we might start to enjoy it a whole lot more.

Get more stuff like this!

This article first appeared in issue 170 of bunkered (April 2019). To subscribe, click here.

P001 Bunk 170 V1

Share this Article

share-logo
twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
Your new way to chip | 3 simple chipping tips
Chipping
play button
How to play Worst Ball
Worst ball
play button
Old vs New Tech | How big are the gains going to be?
Titleist
play button
How to play Texas Scramble
Texas Scramble
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

Thorbjorn Olesen responds to "sexual assault" allegations
Thorbjorn Olesen "grabbed woman's breast on flight", court told
Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson hit with bizarre penalty
"I nearly quit golf this year" reveals Bryson DeChambeau
bunkered lands major industry awards for outstanding service

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods: Inside his $41million Florida mansion
The very best pubs in St Andrews
The Scottish Golf Course Emoji Quiz!
24 lies every bad golfer tells
Doug Sanders: The extraordinary life of golf's original playboy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
The correct posture is the key to consistency
Watch
play button
Increase your power
Watch
play button
How to get your takeaway on plane
Watch
play button
Use your height to maximum effect
Callaway
See all videos right arrow