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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 307
BOOING BOORS MAR CUP I s there a place in golf for booing? There was plenty of it at the Ryder Cup this past weekend and I don’t know about you but it just doesn’t sit right with me. Golf is competitive, not combative, and negative barracking, to my mind, detracts from the spectacle. At Le Golf National there were 24 of the world’s very best players assembled and while much of the golf, particularly from the Americans, was not up to their usual high standards the calibre of cheering was frankly amateurish. It started at the opening ceremony when Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed were booed during the introductions (disgraceful is the only word to describe this) and continued on to the course with some particularly poor behaviour at inappropriate times. When Tony Finau found water with one of his shots in the morning fourballs Friday there was loud cheering and clapping from the partisan European crowd and similar outbreaks when the US team missed short birdie putts. Many on social media felt compelled to comment – major winners Karrie Webb, Paul Lawrie and Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew among them – and even Tony Johnstone and Sam Torrance spoke out from the TV commentary box. But for all that, there were those who defended their right to cheer against the opposing team rather than simply in favour of their own side. It would be almost unthinkable to hear booing at a week-to-week golf event. The nature of tournament golf doesn’t really lend itself to the practise because there are 155 ‘opponents’ for every player in the field so no real ‘sides’ to choose. And even in top-flight matchplay events it’s never been an issue. Imagine somebody booing a player in the final of the US Amateur? But it seems at the Ryder Cup, which was begun as an exhibition in the 1920s as a way to foster goodwill and showcase the game, all bets are off. There have always been ‘lone wolf’ idiots at golf tournaments but widespread negative barracking has never been considered acceptable. Until now. In response to an article pointing out the unpleasant nature of some of the cheering at Le Golf National one American writer tweeted he had ‘no problem with it during the Ryder Cup’. When it was suggested it added nothing to the spectacle he countered that the famous spiteful match between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed in 2016 at Hazeltine was a direct result of the antics of the crowd. “Booing and cheering for bad shots is what riled them up to do that,” he wrote. Perhaps. But that assumes that particular match – minus the histrionics from the players – would have been dull. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. After last year’s Presidents Cup in New York, Audrey Leishman was so disenchanted with the behaviour of fans she felt compelled to write a blog post expressing her disappointment. In it, she noted: “I enjoy that true golf lovers want to watch good sport, even if it’s not coming from their favourite players.” This, I think, neatly encapsulates what golf and is what the Ryder and Presidents Cups should be about. Good golf is good golf no matter who plays it. Good golf should be celebrated and applauded, no matter who plays it. And bad golf? That should simply be forgotten, not cheered, no matter who plays it. VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
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