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!