Golf - A Gentleman's Game?
By klangdon on 10/3/07
Golf has long been dubbed a gentleman's game, but is it really? Maybe it depends who you ask, but I know one thing for sure, what I've seen from golf fans on tv lately sure hasn't boded well for the notion. Maybe it just took 10 years for the Billy Madison generation (wow- I can't believe that's been 10 years already) to be old enough and affluent enough to get themselves into professional golf events, but something has certainly changed in the past few years.

At the British Open last year Tiger Wood's final round played with Sergio Garcia was marred by a continuous stream of never ending clicks from camera phones and annoying ring tones, even though cell phones were clearly banned from the event. The rule was unenforceable because the R& A decided they didn't want lines for checkpoints like in America. Wonder if they'll reconsider next year?

In a sport predicated on enforcing your own penalties and reporting your own score, are we still playing a gentleman's game?
Last year, at The Buick Open, we saw a clear display of 21st century golf hooliganism at Warwick Hills' number 17. The unique par three that allows over 15,000 people to crowd around a single hole certainly provides some spectacular awe inspiring moments of brilliance. A roaring crowd, chanting a golfers name after he sticks one within inches of the hole can give even the casual fan goosebumps, but the raw displays of emotion can also cause some pains for the pros... you know- the ones we pay to see perform?

Even so, I think we can dismiss these displays of public over-affection as results of the game's increasing popularity and as a small negative sidebar to what has been a true evolution of the pro game, from purse size, to the level of competition, to the number of people playing worldwide.

But what happens when you move away from the professional world and look in-depth at us regular hacks, going out and doing our best to master even a small part of this frustrating tease of a game? In a sport predicated on enforcing your own penalties and reporting your own score, are we still playing a gentleman's game?

Leave it to the Canadians to be ahead of the curve with this one. If you have a moment, you must check out this clip from a radio broadcast recorded in 1957. If you are any kind of golf fan at all, you will get a real kick out of this short clip from the CBA Archives. I wish I could find the rest of it. His description of cheating and the way golfers think- is still dead-on today. I guess that means Canada is either ahead of its time, or just proof that integrity hasn't really left the game, just that it never existed.

It's kind of like trying to lose weight, but lying to yourself and others about your starting point.
Us American's can just place blame on our nation's leaders. Thirteen of the past sixteen Presidents have played, many to the level some would call addictive. Most notably, people point to President Bill Clinton and his exploits on the golf course. He was known to take as many mulligans as it took to get it right, and expected nobody to question his final results. The phenomenon certainly did not begin with him though. Presidential Lies, a book written by Shep Campbell and Peter Landau outlines and reviews how our leaders have played the game and how their skill and respect of the rules reflects in their political policy. More recently, First Off The Tee hit the shelves. I've even read this one cover to cover and highly recommend it as a good leisure read.

So what does all this rambling mean? Should we feel bad about nudging the ball out of a divot after hitting our first good ball down the middle of the fairway all day? Should we feel sleazy when we misinterpret or ignore the rules when it comes to penalty strokes to improve our scores by a couple stokes? Should we be appalled when our buddy uses 3 mulligans per side?

Probably, but many of us don't. That's why the advancement of the internet and sites like can be so useful. If you play by all the rules, you can get a true idea of where your golf game is at and where you are really losing strokes. After looking at your stats from a few rounds, you may quickly realize you don't need to be using those mulligans off the tee, because the real reason you are shooting 105 and not breaking that magic round number is because of your ridiculously high number of putts. It's kind of like trying to lose weight, but lying to yourself and others about your starting point. You would gain a lot more pleasure seeing the true results of your practice if you are honest about what your handicap really is.

For me, it's time to come off my soapbox, and back to reality. I have certainly been known to fudge a score or two, or claim double par on a disaster hole instead of putting out, but I'm trying to get better with it. There's a reason I shoot the same score now, as I did 3 years ago. I'm a much better golfer now, but I'm counting everything. Maybe some of the aura of "the gentleman's game" lies within the bending of the rules, but I dare you to try it without for a couple rounds.

[ comments ]
chipotle mg says:
who wrote this? i agree that honesty in score keeping is essential.
Kickntrue says:
Who wrote this?! Some freaking genius I guess. He's probably so amazing he wouldn't even bother tooting his own horn- because he's so awesome. Hmmm... I wonder who wrote it?
mbills1015 says:
gotta love retro day!
bducharm says:
In general, common courtesy and decorum has gone by the wayside (witness the never ending stream of "GO IN THE HOLE" shouts). Golf can be looked at as an extension of society. Customer service is a thing of the past, being a good citizen has gone the way of the cell phone, etc. I TRULY embrace golf as a gentleman and try to live my life that same way.
laterider says:
This is really a great article that speaks to 'who' we've become as a people. There was a time when one's honesty or status as a 'gentleman', was never in question. Now, most of us just assume dishonesty in the next fellow. I like to play my game strictly according to the rules. I enjoy being honest and sincerely hope my friends will be too.
mjaber says:
I was shocked last week by the pair I played with. Wayward shot after wayward shot, and not a single "FORE". One shot almost hit a guy on the tee box next to the green we were hitting in to. Unfortunately, I wasn't really paying attention to where their shots were going.

They would complain while we waited to tee off about the group in front of us being slow. It wasn't the group in front of us that was slow, it was that we were stuck in the midst of league play, and the course was full. Common courtesy seems to be the biggest thing that has, to some extent, disappeared.
tennesseeboy says:
I recommend everyone read this article about Arnold Palmer's 10 rules for good golf. Ten rules by a class act that loves and respects the game of golf. I agree that golf has changed as society has changed. So many people today don't seem to think anything or anyone deserves honor and respect. They don't even respect themselves. So why would these people respect and honor the game of golf and it's traditions?
nike golf says:
dude this is wrong. Golf has been a gentleman's game forever. That is why you are respectful on the course. That is why you dress nicely. Yeah so what that Tiger has been a disgrace to the world. Get over it. You always have other better people like Phil Mickleson
nike golf says:
no this is not anybody from Nike the company, i just like their products
[ post comment ]
    Cigar Lounge
Most Popular: