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Dec 16

International Golfers

International Golfers – Know Where You Are

We all know the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” There are one or two others, however, that we should be aware of when we play in other countries. “When in Rome, there are some things Romans can do that you can’t” is one of them. “When in Rome, check out the hazard signs with a native speaker.” That’s another good one.

Steve Elkington Fifty-year old pro golfer Steve Elkington, who is Australian, threw out some tweets in the UK involving the tattoo habits and weight profiles of various people in Southport. He added a few choice comments about Pakistanis, or “Pakkis,” and the quality of food in his host country – the word was a strong one.

I have known many Australians, and at least in my circle, they are a hardy bunch, and pretty straight-talkers. It might be hard for such a sturdy group to remember that what is normal conversation in one place is uncouth in another, and what is uncouth in one place, is illegal in another. After all, England isn’t just a bunch of mono-national tea drinkers, but a vast mix of citizenry and visitors with ancestries that hail from around the globe.
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Apparently, the hosts of the championship, and even local authorities are looking into Elkington’s comments to see if there are grounds for legal action or professional sanctions. For those who are surprised that people read tweets, or even what were thought to be private emails, get with it. Privacy is an extinct beast from another century, and will probably never return.

Now, there should be an adage that reads, “When in Cancun, do what the Cancunians do or don’t do”  as well, or perhaps, “When in Cancun, learn to read Cancunian.” might be helpful. Long island resident Edward Lunger went into a bunker for the next shot, and was attacked by a female crocodile, who grabbed his arm and took him down to the ground. All right, there was yellow tape around the bunker, but no sign explaining why. Ground under repair? Free Drop? No Trespassing?

steve 2 Mr. Lunger was taken to the hospital, unable to even feel his arm. It turns out that he lost one finger and part of another, but no one would help him until he paid an almost 18,000 medical bill up-front. Lunger’s friends all got together and maxed out their credit cards to get him fixed up, whereupon he was presented with a waiver to prevent him from initiating a lawsuit. When he refused, he was accused of provoking and teasing the crocodile – right. Who wouldn’t interrupt a round of golf to do that? He’s going to go after the course in a big way, and we’ll have to stay tuned.

The point is, I suppose, that when we pack for other countries on our golf outings, we need to stow some extra brain cells dedicated to local customs, sensitivities, and in extreme cases, wildlife and a handbook for civil litigation. The truth is, you can’t say and do anything you want, not everywhere.loads/2014/12/steve-1.jpg” alt=”steve 1″ width=”300″ height=”205″ />

In the nineteenth century, Britishers were fond of saying “Britain’s way is the world’s way.” It isn’t that way any more, but a lot of us from around the globe still carry that idea. Each year, people from one place get in trouble bestowing their own personal habits upon another culture as a gift of self. Far better, I think, for us to hunker down, say less, think more before saying it, and do our very best to stay in the fairway when visiting tropical and sub-tropical climates, especially in a sanctioned event.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.