For the average person, a round of golf can be pure hell. Seriously, you go out with your buddies who will badger you after every shank, spend forty bucks to lose ten dollars’ worth of balls and come back with a sunburn that makes you look like a fire hydrant. What’s so heavenly about that? The game eats you up, spits you out and has you crawling back to the same thing throughout the whole summer, so why is this game the nicest pro sport in the land? Easy, the fans.
Just think about it, after someone sinks a Sunday putt on hole 18, do you see half the gallery clapping and the other half burying their face in their palms cursing under their breath? No, it’s a “Leave No Man Behind” deal every single shot of the ball. Everyone claps, everyone wants the chip shot to go in, and nobody in the gallery wants to see a player tank. It’s like every player has home course advantage. It’s plain and simple, the PGA has the nicest and most forgiving fans on the tour.
Literally, could PGA followers be any more forgiving? A few Thanksgiving days ago golfing prodigy Tiger Woods ran his car into one of the biggest scandals ever to hit sports. The guy had more mistresses than he had clubs in his bag, and they all came out one-by-one, porn-star by waitress. The list was ridiculous, he looked like he was more concerned about beating Wilt Chamberlin’s record than catching Jack Nicklaus’ major record.
Anyway, the point is that this golfing superstar turned into the punch line of every late-night show’s jokes and saw his name in every headline on tabloids. The man let everyone down, betrayed his wife to the extreme and let’s be honest, the guy is just flat out arrogant. But did this turn every avid golf fan away from Tiger? In any other sport, it may have happened, but not in golf.
Now when Tiger walks onto a golf course, he is applauded and has a fan base that matches, if not surpasses the one he had before his incident. The truth is golf is better with Tiger at his best, but to see the reception he gets wherever he walks around even with his controversial life being exposed, you know that these fans are just different, but in a very pleasant way.
Sure I can understand Phil, Westwood and all the other popular players have a fan base, but once you walk on that green regardless of how many majors you have under your belt, the crowd is on your side. Just take for example Y.E. Yang’s 2009 PGA Championship when he took down Tiger Woods to give him his first major title. Tiger arguably has the biggest fan base in golf, but when Yang made his run against the prodigy, the crowd roared at every shot he sank, even though they knew he was en route to beating Tiger.
So whether it’s rooting for a public-humiliation to turn back into a leaderboard regular, or pulling for a golfer you have never heard of, life in the gallery may be the most upbeat in all of sports. It may leave your leisurely round a mental nightmare, but for the pros of the game, every round on the tour is a welcoming experience.