Golf has always been a gentleman’s game, embodying the best in manners and fair play. Not so anymore. The 2008 Ryder Cup, the 37th renewal of what began as a friendly sporting competition among professional golfers from Great Britain and America, seems now less golf than field hockey.
On a golf course set up more for amateurs than the world’s best players [the better to begat crowd pleasing birdies] with flag waving, face painted crowds and fist pumping, caterwauling players, this year’s event has surrendered all pretense to sportsmanship. It's one thing to pull for your team and teammates, quite another to incite the home crowd while your opponent has golf yet to play. American captain Paul Azinger established a Ryder Cup bottom when he urged the partisan, Kentucky, crowd to cheer when the Euros miss a shot or putt. Citing such behavior by European fans he recommends boorishness as the answer to boorishness 'Zinger’s attitude is more appropriate in the poolroom or bowling alley than on the golf course.
There has been a huge push in America to democratize golf. This has manifested itself in media glorification of public courses, drunken, rowdy fans and poorly behaved players. Unfortunately the effort to bring golf to the common man has brought instead the common man to golf. Can "full contact" golf be far behind? Stay tuned.