Golf: Will it remain a game of tradition?
It’s time to directly speak about the big muscly elephant in the room, and his name isn’t Bryson DeChambeau, for once. No, now is the time to instead address Brooks Koepka’s comments heading into the final round at the PGA Championship and what it means for the current state of the game, because rather than talking about amazing stories that exemplify the true nature of the sport, which I’ll get to later on in this post, here we are about to put our attention, yet again, onto Brooks.
Allow me to first offer my obvious bias towards the subject, if you haven’t already picked up on it: I lean more to the traditionalist side of golf. I, like Rory, was taken aback at Brooks’ comments aimed at his ostensible best friend DJ and the rest of the PGA Tour players on the leaderboard – italics intended for emphasis to echo Rory’s respect towards his fellow golfers. Yes, my bias is clear, and it’s clear for a reason. This post is not a journalistic report on the first Major of the Year of COVID – we all know the result – but rather purely an opinion piece. I debated for a brief time whether to stay Switzerland on the subject but quickly felt that this piece is better suited to spur discussion, because it’s a discussion worth having; and, let’s face it, the elephant will not stop staring us in the face.
So here it is plain and simple: Do you think Golf needs controversy such as we’re seeing with Brooks, or do you think it has potential to take the state of the game into an unnecessary direction away from some of the sport’s greatest traditions?
Let this question marinate in your thoughts while I offer some points to think about as to why I lean toward the latter…
What we learn from golf
Most golfers enter the sport at a young age, and one of the first things we learn as youngsters is golf etiquette. We all know the conventions: don’t step in someone’s line on the green, replace your divots on the course and green – although many seem to have missed this lesson – don’t play slow, etcetera, etcetera. Golf etiquette instills honor into the game, and not just in the sense of who tees off first after scoring the lowest on the previous hole; honor in golf shows respect towards the game, its traditions, its conventions, and its participants.
Granted, we all laugh at Brooks pointing toward the ground at an ant in mockery of his colleague, Bryson, but sometimes we fail to add this moment onto many others that has seen Brooks take aim at his colleague, such as when he publically called him out for slow play, or when he cryptically called him out for using steroids – again in public. It’s clear that Brooks has no problem being golf’s bully, but I, for one, am glad that Rory’s honorable words carry more weight than Brooks’ bloated dad-bod. (Yes, I went there. What do you want me to say, “… carry more weight than Brooks’ ego”? Cause I can write this post into something a little more stream of consciousness if I want to, you know…)
… but, I for one, am glad that Rory’s words carry more weight than Brooks’ grandiosity.
Although there’s a small part of me that enjoys trash talking one of the games best players from the comfort of my computer, I will get back to this point shortly, as I first I want to touch on another aspect of the great game of golf that we all learn when entering the sport.
Sportsmanship in golf
Sportsmanship in golf falls closely in line with golf etiquette, in that a deep respect for the game and its players tops the list of how golfers act on and off the course: do not cheat *cough – Patrick – cough*, remove your hat and bump fists with your playing partners after a round (updated for the current COVID world, of course), respect your fellow golfers, etcetera, etcetera. These values, and more, are the foundation of not only golf but also across all sports. See above comments toward Brooks for insight into where I feel he lacks compared to other higher-standing golfers, such as Rory. It’s time to bring up a fairly new element to the game of golf, rather than rehashing my lamentations towards Mr. BK.
What’s new in golf
Who here doesn’t want to play a round of golf with Tiger and Phil simply to trash talk the entire day with them? Let’s take a look at The Match to see just how much fun such a day would be:
These sorts of matches and moments are not something we’re used to seeing as golf fans; many of us trash talk our friends on the course when we’re playing a fun round, such as The Match, but to see professionals such as Tiger and Phil do it brings a smile to all of our faces, no doubt. There’s just something about friendly trash talking that brings us all together as golfers, and as fans. But here’s the thing: trash talking is a friendly gesture of comradery. Now ask yourself if you’d ever see Tiger or Phil speak like Brooks toward their colleagues as they all head into the final round of a major (again, italics used for emphasis). I think we all know the answer to this. When you venture out of the realm of friendliness, you venture into the realm of Brooks Koepka.
Going back to my stream of consciousness remarks, all you have to do is re-read my not-so-friendly comments aimed at Brooks to notice that they don’t come across as friendly trash talk but rather lowbrow insults, which is why my comments didn’t actually feel good to type; they felt unbecoming, disrespectful – feelings that I don’t attribute to myself as a golfer with strong values of honor that I learned as a lil gaffer playing the great game of golf.
And now for my final point with this rant…
Cue Zach Johnson’s response at being named the recipient of the 2020 Payne Stewart Award...
I’ve watched this video of Zach multiple times, and each time it brings major feels. Payne Stewart, Zach Johnson, and the like, exemplify what I personally have always loved about the great game of golf, because it exemplifies some of the best parts of humanity. Unfortunately, I get a sense that it’ll be a long time, if ever, before we watch Koepka receive this prestigious award.
Now answer to yourself the question I posed above, or simply digress with me and instead look forward to the FedEx Cup Playoffs this week, where more important and interesting storylines are there to follow; such as Tiger, Morikawa, Thomas, and how Brooks just withdrew from the playoffs to end his season.
I don’t believe in karma, but sometimes timing can sure make one wonder.