So does anyone else remember the line from ESPN the Magazine's commercial 10+ years ago? Where the guy says, "Just hit the ball, Sergio?"
Maybe that ad needs to reappear.
This blog isn't just about Sergio. It's about golf--especially pro golf--in general. It's about the ridiculous little quirks and the absurd little rules and the supposed honor system that surrounds pro golf. There is nothing in particular wrong with all of that, until it leads to a couple of 12 year olds sniping at each other on the playground. And that's a pretty accurate summary of what happened between two golfers last weekend.
That would be Tiger Woods and Garcia, in case you missed it. And we'll throw in the course marshals from last week's Tournament Players Championship at Sawgrass.
I won't rehash the whole sequence, but suffice it to say that Sergio blamed Woods for his poor shot and an excessively sophomoric exchange has continued ever since.
You know, golf is supposed to be so honorable and upstanding. People had a fit because Tiger Woods didn't withdraw from The Masters after violating a rule. Players are supposed to self-report and self-police. It's supposed to be a "gentlemen's game".
So why is it that golfers throw hissy fits and whine to the media every time someone so much as sniffs or scratches during play? Why is it that they have rules violation phone-a-thons to let guys sitting on the couch report a player violation they saw on TV?
I am not a fan of athletes who make excuses, and golfers sometimes have a lot of them. This doesn't let Tiger of the hook, either. He's been known to make some serious waves when people in the crowd didn't behave according to his standards. Didn't he even have Steve Williams bust a few cameras over the years.
Enough of this. Let's have some real fun with the PGA. When I was in college, I used to play at a lovely course called Hillandale (aka, Hill-and-Rock). Not only did you have to play on greens that were like my front lawn, but you also had to play across fairways that literally crossed one another.
Yes, I want to see the PGA play on a course like that one. I want to see how the pros manage themselves on that kind of course.
There was actually a hole that had a high-voltage power line tower sitting in the fairway. Course rule: Play it where it lies! So, technically, if you landed under the tower, you had to hit out.
Why can't we find out how the pros play on that kind of course? And I'm not even mentioning the guys who had just emptied two coolers of beer by the fourth hole, yet continued to grace us with their presence. After all, it was only $15 to ride 18, so it wasn't necessarily a high-class clientele.
I can only imagine where Sergio would have hit the ball with all of this happening.
This is exactly what I would like to see: Pro golf played on the "everyman" level. Let's see what happens when the pros don't have perfect conditions and manicured landscapes and complete silence. I bet Tiger's timing of club selection would suddenly become the least of Sergio's worries.
Yes, I'm sure that I will hear how I don't understand, don't honor the game, don't respect the tradition. And you're right, I don't. I don't play much, and when I do I could not care less what the score is. But as a very casual fan, I'm becoming more of a fan of the guys who just play and own it when they don't get it done. As for the prima donas that are too sensitive to handle any of the "curveballs" that the rest of us duffers encounter all the time, I would love to see them play a round at Hill-and-Rock.
Until then, I say: Just hit the ball, Sergio. Until you have to hit through a power tower in a well-groomed cow pasture, we're really not interested.