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Why can't the PGA Tour lighten up?

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Tiger Woods - Oakmont
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Let's have Tiger Woods step up to the tee to the strands of "Eye of the Tiger!" (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.comTig)

A simple click of a camera sent John Daly to the disabled list a few weeks back at the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. Some troublemaker fan snuck a camera through the gates and snapped a photo mid-backswing. Daly halted awkwardly, pulling some muscles, and withdrew from the event.

PGA Tour golfers are heralded for their sterling concentration and ability to put mind over matter -- yet they demand total stillness and silence.

That's hypocritical, and not much fun for golf fans.

In college basketball teenagers have to try to knock down late-game free throws while student fans use every body part they can legally wave to distract them. In Europe and South America soccer players remain intently focused on the field while minor civil wars break out in the stands.

Even bowling decided to allow crowd noise during competitors' rolls at ESPN tournaments a few years back.

Yet golf still demands tea-party etiquette. It makes watching the sport - live or on TV - as exhilarating as ironing socks.

Any old Joe can rip a 290-yard drive down a tight fairway in total silence. During our backswings us amateurs on the course have to deal with car honks, our partner's vibrating Blackberry, grounds crews revving up leaf blowers and little Matthew's backyard bar mitzvah to the left of the 13th fairway.

Fan rules for golf events make restrictions at the Smithsonian seem laid-back. Cell phones have been banned outright from the British Open Championship. Trying to take a camera to a tour event is like sneaking a full tube of Colgate through airport security.

And if you want a decent seat on a back-nine green, you'd better be ready to get there early and stay all day. Is it worth it just to spend six hours offering dainty claps?

It sucks to be a golf fan.

I don't go to tour events for the same reason I seldom attend church. We're expected to watch expressionless old white men, sit on our hands and only show emotion when it's expected of us. We're shuffled around like robots, and booze is in short supply.

There should be at least one tournament a year - maybe in Myrtle Beach, Tucson or some other town the demolition-derby tour might consider too low-rent - where a golf tournament can be less of a fire drill and more of a sports event.

They could call it the Riff-Raff Open. It will be complete with air horns, heckling, body paint and balls landing in bunkers-turned-hippie drum circles.

We could pull some ideas from other, more spectator-friendly sports. Like batters coming to the plate in the big leagues, golfers stepping up the tee would be serenaded with a theme song: "Hey Mickey!" for Lefty, "Eye of the Tiger" for Tiger, "The Gambler" for Daly, "Mr. Roboto" for Vijay ...

Or how about some organized chants, like in basketball? On a drivable par 4 with trouble all around the green, start up a "[boom boom] Dri-ver! [boom boom] Dri-ver!"

Streakers should be encouraged, so long as they don't shamelessly have a URL tattooed on their rump.

It will raise fan interest and the pros' powers of concentration to unforeseen levels. Ticket sales and TV ratings will go through the roof, and golfers will finally validate their reputation for mind over matter.

Sure, pros like Daly can make a six-foot putt in total silence. But can they do it with three stoners sitting front-row center, munching on nachos and arguing about the best Jack Black movie?

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • No cameras

    Jenny wrote on: Apr 24, 2012

    For fan noise in golf visit TPC Scottsdale AZ 16th green. Complete with cheers jeers booze and women in skimpy club dresses.

    Reply

  • thats a great idea

    jon wrote on: Aug 27, 2010

    i dont think that many of the pros would actually play in the riff raff open but it would definitely be interesting to play under the same circumstances. the only addition i would make is add a keg at every tee box than every one would be having a good time

    Reply

  • Crowd behaviour

    Richard Cooper wrote on: Aug 30, 2007

    Thank goodness there is still one sport where respect is shown for the players while they are playing. The American crowds are already infiltrated with idiots shouting 'in the hole' and other nonsense, which tragically is begining to show its face in the UK.
    The sell-out crowds shows clearly the sport does not need the element that are fine watching other games, so for heavens sake leave it alone and throw spectators out who use mobile phones or cameras. Golf does not need them!

    Reply

  • re: being a golf fan sucks

    Marco wrote on: May 27, 2007

    so go be an ultimate fighting fan or a soccer fan, but golf is golf. Airhorns in tennis? I don't think so. Some people look at sporting events as just a good excuse to get drunk and obnoxious. Some people love the sport as it was and is.
    If you want to get drunk and act like an idiot, try a frat party.

    Reply

  • Brandon Tucker's Column

    Les Layton wrote on: Mar 19, 2007

    I agree with Brandon that PGA Tour players must lighten up. What a treat to see Rocko do well at Bay Hill.
    Keep up the good work, Brandon. Nice to see another golf columnist enter the course who can really write.

    Reply


 
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