Golf had a wake up call last night at the US Open.
In one of its biggest events, when all eyes were on the world’s best exponents of it, the stereotype that hurts it most reared its ugly head.
A stuffy old white man and his cohorts decided to take centre stage.
Rather than eye the pure drama a back nine at a major brings it became farcical with social media exploding in anger, as one, and with all the attention post-round being on an amateur organisation, in more ways than one, the USGA.
The story should have been about ‘the most talented athlete to ever play golf’ in the words of fellow US Open champ Graeme McDowell. An athlete who has overcome previous heartbreak and had issues on and off the course.
But no, they couldn’t let this happen. The blazer brigade couldn’t less this happen.
And we should have seen this coming. These people are infecting the game we love in every facet.
The governing bodies and the tours are run by these blazered guys. The media is run by these blazered guys. Even your local golf club is run by these blazered guys.
They are all the same. They lack foresight or don’t care about the future. They often ignore popular opinion and pure logic in favour of clinging on to whatever iota of ‘power’ they have and they are getting older and older and older.
They are sexist, elitist, stuffy and generally just pricks.
With the blazer brigade in charge of all areas of the game it cannot grow. People outside the game look on and far from become inspired to take up the game they laugh, or at best are utterly confused.
I asked my mate.
“So he didn’t touch the ball then?”
“And everyone in the competition agrees?”
“So what’s the problem then? It’s not like he’s getting any advantage moving the ball 1mm anyway is it?”
“Nah, none at all.”
Pure logic from somebody that has never picked up a club and could have done a better job giving rulings at Oakmont this week!
But golf won’t change until it stops pandering to the blazer brigade or until it wrestles the game away from them.
The pro game
The pros are the product and they should be an incredible one. Often young lads from normal backgrounds with incredible talents. Rory, Rickie, Jason, Jordan and Dustin… they should be global stars and viewed as real sportsmen and athletes.
But they are often managed by the blazer brigade. Speak when you’re spoken to and don’t say what you think just in case you commit the ultimate sin… say something slightly off message for one of your 10 sponsors… sponsors aimed at the blazer brigade.
Luxury watches, expensive cars and investment firms chuck money at golf so blazered execs can come down and get pissed up and act exactly how management companies tell their pros not to behave. Irony hey?
Now these sponsors need attention and this comes from the media.
One look at Sky Sports and every pundit is wearing a blazer. They are catered towards the blazer brigade. Sky Sports Golf seemingly don’t seem to care about the public majority or growing the game, they care about short term and pleasing their own depleting sponsors.
And if you want proof of how the blazer brigade work then just walk down to your local golf club. Look at some of the decisions they make, look at some of the rules they impose, it’s exactly the same warped logic and lack of care or foresight.
So what to do?
But the blazer brigade won’t change golf themselves. They’ll do the same things over and over to remain comfortable. And we all know where this leads… nowhere.
The pros need to grow some balls and get together with likeminded people and get creative or risk having things like this happen again… as it could be them next time, or their dream ruined by a blazer guy.
A simple ‘Fuck the USGA. We ain’t playing until we get the changes we want,’ should be a good starter for 10.
After all, these pros got to where they are by standing up and being counted. By having the balls to take on the big shot when nobody else would. By going for it. That’s what winning takes. That’s what changing situations take.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum, golfers need to get together and go into their golf clubs and make changes of their own. Demand change at the golf club or vote with your feet.
The blazer brigade are weak. They’re old men who are clinging on, scared of the changing world. They can’t fight so they want to be comfortable. And they’d prefer the game to die rather than not be.
And that is the crux of it. The game will die if we don’t act.
‘But golf will always be around, don’t be silly,’ I hear you say.
Well golf is not the sport I grew up to love if old blazered guys who aren’t playing are telling me I’ve had a shot when I haven’t, and nobody I’m playing against does either.
For me, then, golf is dead.
I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.