Are Golf Fans Getting Out of Control?

Justin Thomas was another of recent golf professionals who have had enough of boisterous fans stepping over the line. The slow increase in rowdiness by the gallery at golf tournaments is grating on some professionals and they are having fans removed. Unlike other sports like team football, hockey and baseball, golf is a supposed to be a gentlemen’s game where focused heckling should not be tolerated. Except for the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, fans are expected to maintain a certain level of decorum while on the course. On the weekend past, Justin Thomas felt that one fan had sprinted past that level. Hence, the fan went home early.

Justin Thomas stated “It’s those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times or just saying stuff that’s completely inappropriate. … There’s really no place for it anywhere, but especially on a golf course, which is I feel like golf is pretty well-known as a classy sport.” (Golfweek) It appears that this fan did not speak out of turn just once, but was harassing Thomas for some time. Enough was enough and Thomas took a stand.

Some other golf pundits think that the fans will take retribution out on Thomas for his actions, especially during the upcoming Ryder Cup, however I am not sure there will be a fan revolt because some unruly person was removed from the venue. There are always a few who feel they can say and do what they want on the golf course without any consequences and golf can live without them.

I believe that is a gentlemen’s game. There are times when it is good for a player to show emotions and times to be reserved. I think this applies fans as well. Cheering when someone makes a hole in one was they did for Matt Kuchar in the 2017 Masters

is completely different that being heckled during all phases of your golf shot. Fans should understand that yelling at players while they hit the ball is not an acceptable practice and unlike other team sports, trying to throw a player off their game by heckling is not cool. There is no place in golf for the latter.

I read some comments on heckling and some of the respondents think that a golfer is being too soft and mentally weak for not tolerating “a little heckling”. Apparently, they feel it is part of most other sports, so it should be apart of golf. They are entitled to their opinion, but I do not support their view.

I am not suggesting that golf fans should not cheer loudly and to get caught up in the excitement, but heckling a specific player is not acceptable. Golf is a different venue than sports stadiums and the fans are much closer to the players. Hence, yelling specifics at one player could change the outcome of a tournament. Additionally, the sports culture of other sports encourages such behavior, but golf does not.

Justin Thomas had a fan ejected for focused heckling on multiple occasions and he took a stand. I support Thomas and suggest his actions were reasonable. What do you think? Did Thomas or the fan step over the line?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

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10 thoughts on “Are Golf Fans Getting Out of Control?

  1. I think perception has a lot to do with this particular situation. The TV coverage shows the fan making his “get in the bunker” comment after Thomas made his swing and the ball is in the air so I think many fans viewed Thomas as over reacting (not knowing that this fan had apparently been “heckling the group” all day). I’m not saying it is O.K. for someone to make that comment while the ball is in the air (it’s rude and poor sportsmanship) but it is less of an offense compared to a comment made in a golfer’s back swing which, in my opinion, would be a reason to eject a fan from the course. I think a better reaction from Thomas would have been for Thomas to quietly ask security to give the fan a warning (earlier in the round if he was constantly heckling them) and then remove the fan a few holes later, if his behavior continued to be impacting the players.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a price to pay for the growth of golf. Part of that is dealing with more jerks I guess. I have no problem with how Justin handled the issue, but I do think the pro’s are going to have to develop some tougher skin as I doubt it’s going to get any better any time soon. That doesn’t mean allowing it, just being able to tune it out better. Golf really isn’t just a “gentleman’s” game anymore. The game has changed for better or worse. I for one like the changes for the most part and would be the last one in the world to suggest going back to wearing a suit coat while trying to swing. And I like my Henley collared shirts that are only allowed on some of the courses I play.

    In fact we tried to play once at one of the courses across the bay from us and were turned away because one of us didn’t check to see if shorts were allowed. It was 90 degree’s out. We haven’t been back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin

      I agree that golf is evolving and chNgrs are going to be made. But, not all progress is good progress. There is a an aspect of respect thst transcends golf that is missing. I think the top players do have are thincl skin given the conditions they play under. As it turns out JT applogised, still not sure it was needed.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

  3. Jim, if I was Thomas, I wouldn’t have had the fan thrown out. It took Sergio years to live down his thin skin reputation in the passionate events and Justin doesn’t need to create that for himself. Most fans do still behave appropriately but the overall coarsening of society has increased the number of bad apples. Just something else for the very well compensated tour pros to deal with.

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

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