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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 310
WALK THE WALK AND TALK THE TALK D o professional golfers have a responsibility to the game beyond simply being good at playing it? I ask the question because the world’s newest number one ranked player, Brooks Koepka, once famously described golf as ‘boring’. Many diehard followers found that remark confronting but are fans and media alike too demanding of the game’s stars? To many pro golfers the job begins and ends with playing as well as they can, and that’s understandable. The game is really, really hard, especially if you’re trying to make a living at it. But to many of us recreational golfers that opportunity to make a living from playing golf is one that comes with an added responsibility to promote the game. Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth are three modern top-flight players who spring to mind as excellent contributors in this space. All three are articulate, thoughtful and intelligent and seem able to think about the game beyond just their own statistical performance. 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy goes a step further, his monthly musings in Golf Australia magazine an important addition to the game, while rising Victorian star Lucas Herbert is another who embraces the public side of the job. Sadly, though, for every Ogilvy, Herbert or Scott there are seemingly dozens of players who resent having to engage with the press and public. Koepka’s own relationship with the golf media in the US could best be described as prickly, the two-time US Open winner once famously demanding a reporter he didn’t like be removed from a press conference. He seems to use perceived slights from the writers who cover the game as fuel for performance and to date it is a ploy that is working. None of this is new, of course. Ben Hogan was less than gregarious and found many in the press an annoyance. “One day,” he famously told a group of reporters at The Masters one year, “a deaf mute will win this thing and you guys won’t be able to write a word.” As surly as Hogan may have been, though, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were the exact opposite. Palmer likely did more to popularise golf than any man in history and he did it not by focussing single-mindedly on his on-course performances but by engaging with fans and media alike. To this day Nicklaus is considered one of the most approachable figures in the game and proves it every year by subjecting himself to a lengthy grilling – alongside Gary Player – at Augusta National. At its core professional golf is no more or less than the entertainment business and, generally speaking, the best in history have not only recognised but embraced that responsibility. Let’s hope today’s generation of stars continue the trend. VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
GA Express 309
GA Express 311