Golf Elitism and the Loss of a Generation
The same thing may be true of modern golf. Whatever gains golf makes in becoming a game of the masses may not be enjoyed until the next generation. The reason: Elitism.
Those of us who work in the game cannot deny the lingering effects of American golf's exclusive past. Despite the participation of at least 50 million people worldwide (half of those in the U.S.), even with the development of programs such as the First Tee, golf still suffers from the vestiges of its elitist reputation.
Stop ten people on the street and you'll probably find two golfers. The remainder will have heard of Tiger Woods. But a few more questions of the remaining eight will reveal in at least half of them the notion that golf is 'a rich man's sport,' 'for country club people' - choose your catchphrase.
In popular culture, advertisements and magazine articles aimed at the early-20s set often paint golf as the bastion of those who favor plaid pants and afternoon naps. If you see an ad with a kid in baggy khaki shorts and unwashed hair playing golf, rest assured it was generated by a golf company desperate to get such youngsters to pick up a club - and not put it down.
We have no one to blame but our American selves. Or at least our ancestors. In this country, golf ignored its egalitarian Scottish roots and became the province of private clubs. (Not that there weren't private clubs in Scotland. But the rise of town links in the Auld Sod was as natural as crocuses in the spring, and access to the game for all has been a cherished tradition there since the first shepherd cut a 3-crook into a tight green.)
But here, by the 1950s each major city had (and some still have) its Catholic club, its Episcopalian club, its Jewish club, its men's club - the sad list goes on and on, a litany of criteria whose very existence flouts the goodness of golf's ideal: We shake hands on the first tee and compete, person to person, on the basis of merit and merit alone.
The effects of such behavior take a long time to slough off. Meanwhile, some golfers are made to feel unworthy of others' clubs, or to feel unworthy of any private club. And potential golfers may well feel that the game in general just isn't for anyone but the highfalutin and un-humble.
What worries me is that I see the effects of such attitudes on other sports. Tennis enjoyed a massive jump in popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Seemed like everyone was hitting balls and having a fine time. But then tennis dropped off the national radar, largely because of access problems, the development of the power game, and the white-clothes-only, stay-away-from-my-private-club attitude of some players. And no amount of Agassi has helped.
Fly-fishing has a similar problem. Here is an admittedly expensive sport that doesn't seem to want more participants. I fish, and an ad in a magazine I used to receive regularly lamented the recent surge of greenhorns, saying, 'Don't worry. Soon they'll make a movie about some other sport.' The copy refers to A River Runs Through It, the 1992 Robert Redford movie that attracted many to fly-fishing's bucolic benefits. Funny way to treat potential customers.
Kudos to the First Tee and any program that extols the virtues of golf while keeping things light and welcoming. Can you imagine a world where more people played golf than didn't? Would the world be more mature? Would fewer people cut each other off on I-95? Would fair play increase noticeably?
I'd sure like to find out.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.