Golf is hard. Is it any wonder participation numbers are struggling? You’re given a bag of sticks that are difficult to use, a little white ball that constantly misbehaves and you’re told to find a faraway hole in a certain number of shots because anything over that is bogey, or worse.
Thankfully, I abandoned expectation long ago. I enjoy the game for what it is now; a walk free from the technology and noise of life that consumes me elsewhere. By learning to enjoy it, the bursts of rage that once rumbled inside me have subsided on the golf course, but that’s not to say I can’t empathise with those who struggle to control their emotions when teased by the intricacies of the game.
Take Patrick Reed for example. I wouldn’t say I empathised with him when he snapped his lob wedge over his knee on the 18th hole at the US Open. Actually, I laughed. Reed’s long struck me as the schoolyard bully; the type of kid growing at double the rate of his classmates because he’s stealing everyone’s lunch, so to see him suffer made me smile. But afterwards, the terminally offended struck again; those campaigning against cruelty towards golf equipment because clubs have feelings too.
“At the end of the day, I got my anger out; I didn’t do anything to the golf course, I didn’t say obscenities or anything like that,” said Reed, who had no intention of apologising. “It was a split second, I moved on and did my business, hit my next golf shot.”
And good for him. On Thursday, Lucas Bjerregaard sent two balls into the water on the treacherous 18th and a third out of bounds before flinging his driver like a javelin into the deep blue sea. He took an 11 on the hole but came home in 35 a much calmer man. I’m not saying the pair have demonstrated characteristics you’d look for in a role model but they haven’t disgraced themselves either ala Sergio Garcia who earned himself a disqualification from the Saudi International when intentionally scuffing the greens in anger, and after receiving an estimated $1million just to attend the event.
Reed is often vilified, sometimes rightly so but on this occasion, if it was better out than in, then only the bruise on his knee should feel hard done by. There were times I felt like snapping the remote control over my leg just watching the coverage. Dad had Chez Reavie backed each-way at 200-1. For all SkySports has done for golf, I’m not sure Chez made it out of Pebble Beach alive. But what irked me most about watching last week’s US Open was the loutish behaviour from the galleries, one buffoon worse than the other.
GET IN THE HOLE, MASHED POTATOES, I’M A FOOL STARVED OF ATTENTION, one boorish cry harsher on the ear than the next. We’ve already had instances of horridly mistimed exclamations – think Tiger on his downswing at the Open last year or the clown who yelled ‘Get in the Hole’ before Woods had even struck his putt at the Farmers. The circus that follows Woods is arguably more exaggerated than that which ignorantly adored fictional golfing hero, Happy Gilmore, and it’s only getting worse.
So, bearing in mind how difficult the game is, coupled with the hordes of idiots spouting rubbish each time you strike a ball, you can begin to understand why not everyone can stroll around the golf course like Brooks Koepka, a nailed on cert to play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in Terminator should there ever be a remake.
I grew up watching the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. Outrageously intelligent and regularly outspoken, Malcolm couldn’t get picked on the basketball team because of his acid tongue. As a result, he adopted a policy of bottling his feelings and by biting his lip, life for a time seemed to fall into place like a perfectly played game of Tetris.
As all those around him continued to frustrate, however, Malcolm’s inner-voice grew demonic, but he’d almost made it. Called upon by his coach who admired Malcolm’s new ‘say yes’ attitude, he was just about to enter the biggest game of his life when the troubled teen spat up blood before disbelieving eyes on the touchline. It was a peptic ulcer, brought on from bottled stress.
When it comes to dealing with your emotions; each to their own I say.