Dear Professional Golfer –
On behalf of millions of avid golf fans (or “patrons,” depending on your level of sophistication), please allow me to deliver some truth.
We don’t get it.
You toil countless hours on the rock pile, tape your fingers and fight through plantar fasciitis. You pay a swing coach, nutritionist, mental guru, agent, trainer, caddy, and cover your own expenses in order to compete at the highest level of the game.
You travel hundreds of thousands of miles and stay in so many different hotels that on more than one occasion you’ve completely forgotten your room number after a workout in the fitness room or a session of repetitive elbow-bending at the hotel bar.
You’ve been gone for the birthdays of your kids (unless you’re Phil and have a travel budget only slightly smaller than the Pentagon), missed milestone events, and perhaps have seen your own family broken up because of your absenteeism tied to the sport.
You do all of these things for one reason – your chosen profession and the incredible rewards it offers. You’ve made it abundantly clear that golf is at, or very near, the top of your life’s priorities.
And yet, you behave like a battered spouse who keeps coming back for more abuse. Your friends and family (and fans) are scratching their collective heads wondering what it’s going to take in order for you to make a change.
How much longer are you going to allow the inane, insane, imbecilic ruling bodies of golf to step into an otherwise glorious competitive moment and slap you in the face?
How much longer are you going to allow your personal integrity to be called into question by a rules official who says, “We reviewed the video and discovered that your word means nothing whatsoever.”?
How much longer are you going to allow a Cheetos-eating behemoth whose complete wardrobe consists only of pants with drawstrings to adjudicate the outcome of a major championship from the sunken couch-cushion luxury of his or her den of iniquity?
We see the tears. We read the supportive tweets from your colleagues. We hear broadcasters gingerly try to tiptoe around a range filled with landmines as they sort of, somewhat, kinda decry the injustice of the unfolding moment of (un)reality television.
We know you’re angered by it, because you say “I’m angered by this.”
We know you want it to stop, because you say “this has to stop.”
But just like the battered spouse, you do nothing about it. You (electronically) collect your giant novelty check as a salve to your emotions, pack up your suitcase, and take the circus to the next generously sponsored event.
You’re just glad the injustice (abuse) didn’t happen to you this time.
Those viewer calls or emails or texts or carrier pigeon messages are still allowed to swoop in and steal the show, but only from the handful of players who are on camera. 96% of you never have to worry about it because “protecting the field” apparently only applies to the top of the field.
We just don’t get it.
What happened to DJ was beyond ridiculous.
What happened to Lexi pushed the definition so far one wonders if we need a Senate committee to look into Putin’s email records from Sunday afternoon.
A DAY later? We’re supposed to invest our time and energy into following your competition when the referee can blow the whistle, step into the picture, and call you for a foul that happened YESTERDAY?
And you just sit there and take it? You don’t mind your profession, your income, your sacrifice, your legacy, your integrity being thrown into the blender and pureed?
Does it only matter to you if it happens to you?
You’ll always be better at golf than all of us. That’s why we watch. But you appear to have left your common sense and courage in the trunk of your courtesy car, because if there was the slightest amount of backbone present in the world of professional golf, there would be an uprising…a protest…a demand for change…a golf version of Brexit from the silliness that is tarnishing the game among players and fans.
Why do we, the fans, have to be the ones to think of the simplest of solutions? It’s really not that complicated.
It could happen instantly. Overnight. It doesn’t need to wait until 2019 when the USGA’s sensible new rules are in effect. Now. Right away. Immediately.
Every player – this means YOU – on every tour needs to draw a firm line in the sand (only after you’ve hit your shot) demanding an end to the policy that allows viewers/fans to communicate with rules officials. Period.
Your word and that of your opponent is what we’ve always been told are the most important aspects of the integrity of the game. You sign each other’s cards and are responsible for what’s on them. No one else.
Get some backbone. Take action. The game is too good, too meaningful, too gorgeous for this craziness to continue. You don’t need to wait for the Competition Committee to assemble in a gilded conference room. You don’t need to feel as if this will be a hard case to make.
It takes only one tournament where the entire field takes a stand and refuses to compete until the matter is dealt with. You want to see knees knock and true nervousness on display? Keep an eye on the title sponsor that shelled out $3-5 million for an event that may not take place because the field is demanding a change. Watch how fast the USGA sprints into a huddle with players and TV partners to suddenly declare a new rule on the spot.
Stop being bystanders and enduring one of the most insane injustices in all of professional sports. Don’t let us decide your fate by pretending to be rules officials.
What happened to DJ and Lexi should never have happened. It doesn’t need to EVER happen again. You can stop it.