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Some hot takes from the Golf Doctor on the state of the game he loves

GOLF DOCTOR

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Sometimes I respond to readers’ questions with, I trust, straightforward and useful answers from my research and understanding. In this edition of Dr. Golf at large, I’m simply offering my personal views on several current topics.

First on my list is what has become deplorable fan behavior. It’s great to see a golf course full of patrons lining tournament fairways, but it deeply concerns me regarding the growing bad behavior of golf fans heckling players at PGA Tour events. And it’s far worse than some idiot yelling “Get in the hole” at the top of his lungs as a player hits a 320-yard drive. At the BMW Championship a couple of weeks ago, fans taunted Bryson DeChambeau by screaming “Brooksie” and “Baba Booey.” Of course, boorish, loudmouth and unsportsmanlike fans have been around for a long time. In the 1800s, fellows who had wagered on one player were known to pick up a competitor’s feathery ball and toss it into the gorse. In the modern day, they hounded and badgered young Jack Nicklaus who started beating their beloved Arnie Palmer, and they were relentless in picking on Colin Montgomerie. It is apparent that the Tour tolerates (maybe encourages) rowdy fans at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open) as well as the Ryder Cup matches. In early August, Tim Gavrich wrote a great article for golfpass.com with the tag line “Has golf fandom lost its moral high ground for good?” He noted that fan treatment of DeChambeau runs directly against the game’s tradition and civility. To me, it is quite evident that Camp Ponte Vedra, along with tournament directors, are afraid to do what Augusta National does at the Masters: remove uncivilized, possibly overserved and unruly, fans for life. Just a week ago, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that yelling “Brooksie” or other as-yet-to-be-named insults could get a fan ejected from an event. “Comments that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players (and others),” he said. Well, at least it’s a start, even if somewhat flimsy.

        I haven’t read through the PGA Tour’s dress code for tournaments but I do know that shorts are not permitted, except sometimes for practice rounds. Which brings me to Erik van Rooyen who wears what amounts to be clown pants or gym-type sweatpants, cinched at the ankle. All other players are wearing slacks so snug below the knee that they must be stretchy to get their feet into them. Why can’t they wear dress slacks that fall loosely over the shoe tops?

        As the saying in football goes, defense wins championships. In golf putting wins championships. That was no more evident on Sunday evening, Aug. 29, when stoic Patrick Cantlay made a basketfull of putts, first just to stay in the 6-hole playoff against Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW FedEx tournament, and then win it on his final putt. Cantlay was out-driven all day by De Chambeau by over 30 yards. That didn’t matter to the player they now call “Patty Ice” for his steady, plodding, seemingly expressionless demeanor. For the week Cantlay holed a total of 537.5 feet of putts, not including the playoff hoes – 134 feet per round. He picked up a mind-boggling 14.577 strokes (gained) on the greens on his competitors. His number of three-putts? Zero. I guess the old cliché “drive for show, putt for dough,” may be valid after all; Cantlay made a cool $1.7-plus million at BMW.

        It’s been three years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that all 50 states have the right to legalize sports betting. By the end of 2021 online or in-person betting will be sanctioned in more than half the country. The PGA Tour has embraced betting, and in fact, shows ads for FanDuel and DraftKings, along with betting lines on their TV broadcasts. I had always thought golf was above the realm of bookies. They don’t call Vegas “Lost Wages” for nothing. More here later.

Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at docblanchard71@gmail.com.