Accusations of cheating are tossed around as casually as wedding confetti in most sports, whether it’s Tom Brady’s flaccid ball or Neymar’s roll playing. Not in golf, though. The PGA Tour markets itself as a roving Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, in which upright citizens conduct themselves with probity while helping bestow charitable riches in towns across America.
That image isn’t entirely contrived. The overwhelming majority of Tour pros are honest competitors, and public claims of unscrupulous on-course behavior are rare. Sure, not everyone meets the loftiest standards of conduct, but you can appreciate why the Tour’s old motto sacrificed awkward accuracy — “99 Percent of These Guys Are Good” – for comforting sentiment.
When the Rules of Golf make news, it’s almost always due to unwitting infractions or witless enforcement. Seldom because of an alleged deliberate violation. That’s what made the recent episode between Joel Dahmen and Sung Kang at the Quicken Loans National so extraordinary.
The debate over unruly crowd behavior at golf tournaments is – much like those troublesome fans – growing louder, increasingly fractious and more persistent. A welcome respite looms at golf’s marquee event.
You probably won’t hear much chatter on that subject during the Masters, chiefly because you won’t hear much of the hecklers either. Enforcing rules that seem outdated is a tradition unlike any other at Augusta National, but one tradition warrants celebrating: A patron who bellows abuse or inanities at a player quickly will feel security on his collar (it’s always a “him”) and swiftly be shown to the street.
You won’t hear Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley asking for patience or acceptance of the lobotomized louts, or requesting that players simply deal with the disruption. Spectators pay to watch the show, not to be part of it. The Masters Committee understands that.
Mark Hensby is familiar with punishment that seems harsh for the crime. He learned that growing up in Australia, when a sloppily made bed, an untidy closet, even cutlery held the wrong way, led to brutal beatings by his father.
It’s probably for the best that J.B. Holmes didn’t play the Sony Open in Hawaii a few weeks ago, since a man who can’t pull the trigger on laying up into the rough within four minutes surely would be paralyzed with uncertainty when faced with an alert about an incoming ballistic missile.