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PGA Tour pros behaving badly

By |  April 22, 2019 0 Comments
Photo: Matt Neff

Matt Neff

Have you ever been in your accountant’s office reviewing your tax return when he discovers a mistake, completely loses his mind and starts overturning office furniture? Have you ever been talking to your doctor when he suddenly realizes he has the wrong chart and then, in a fit of rage, proceeds to rip it into pieces?

Yeah, me neither.

As literally everyone knows, this type of behavior would be wholly unacceptable and completely unprofessional — unless of course, you’re a pro golfer.

The PGA Tour season is off to an interesting start, and not entirely for the reasons anyone, especially in this business, would choose. It seems as though a recurring theme since January has been players behaving badly.

Between Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau intentionally damaging playing surfaces, Matt Kuchar being tighter with a buck than a set of antlers and JB Holmes’s brutal preputt rituals, it’s been a rough year out there.

Kuchar’s, um, frugality and Holmes’s pace-of-play issues, while not exactly a good look, aren’t the end of the world, but DeChambeau’s — and especially Garcia’s — antics are a much bigger issue. I’m saying this not as a turf guy but as a golf fan. Turf damage aside, one of golf’s greatest traditions is the integrity and class expected from players, and that expectation extends from the weekend foursome at the local muni all the way to the big leagues.

DeChambeau decided to take out his frustration on a bunker and a practice putting green in incidents at two tournaments this season that appeared to result in minor damage. In fairness to DeChambeau, he issued an apology the day after the putting green incident and mentioned his “respect for the grounds staff and the game of golf.”

By this point, I’m sure almost everyone is aware of Garcia’s reprehensible behavior at the Saudi International. In case you missed it, Garcia was disqualified from the tournament for intentionally damaging five greens as a result of his displeasure with the condition of the newly grown-in surfaces.

Let me repeat that. He willfully damaged five greens, the same greens that his colleagues were also competing on, because he was dissatisfied with them. Let’s say he did it once. While still inexcusable, at least you could chalk it up to one of those “heat of the moment” things. But five separate greens? That type of behavior, or anything even approaching it, is completely unprecedented.

What’s worse, the greens damage actually was the second act in his ridiculous melodrama that week. During his round the previous day, he had a complete meltdown as a result of a poor bunker shot and smashed his club into the sand several times while also blasting sand out of the bunker. Understandable, I guess, because it clearly was the bunker’s fault.

He punctuated his little fit with a rant that I can only assume was completely NSFW. I’m not a fluent Spanish speaker, but I know enough to say that his mother likely was mortified.

Garcia managed to finally muster an apology several days after the incident, but unfortunately this isn’t the first time he’s been guilty of wildly unacceptable conduct on the golf course.

Not only were both of these acts incredibly disrespectful to the superintendent and staff, they also were disrespectful to the rest of the field and an affront to the greatest traditions of the game. Moreover, it certainly can be argued that two of the bigger names on tour engaging in this type of behavior could normalize it to the golfing public, and especially to the kids who look up to pro golfers.

This is posted in Columns

About the Author:

Matt Neff is the assistant golf course superintendent at Wedgewood Golf & Country Club in Powell, OH. He is a graduate of Malone College in Canton, Ohio, and obtained his turfgrass science degree from The Ohio State University. He has been writing for Golfdom since 2013.

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