Get Oliver Brown a Sedative – It’s Just Hair
It’s tough sometimes to come up with something to talk about when you write about golf. We don’t really have anything to do with the game, but we do have the job of instigating and sustaining interesting and, hopefully, enjoyable conversation about the golf and all of its peripheral aspects. Sometimes topics get lean, and we have to drum up a little intensity – so I’ll forgive poor Oliver Brown for going into a swoon the other day over Rickie Fowler’s haircut. Unfortunately, it isn’t just too much – it makes Mr. Brown appear just a bit…sensitive.
Yes, Americans on the loose in sports are a little loud, a little collegiate once in a while, and occasionally, they say things that don’t really fit the situation. And, on occasion, sportsmen and writers from countries other than the U.S. need to vent their spleen at what they perceive as the world’s greatest meddler, complete with sports personalities on a national ego trip – sometimes true, sometimes not.
When I was a kid, my mother warned me about “thugs.” I wasn’t sure what they looked like, never having accurately identified one, but I, unlike Mr. Brown, know that it represents a reprehensible and dangerous style of behavior, and a serious degree of malintent. If I saw big, bad old Rickie Fowler coming to my country with an evil haircut and a bag full of golf clubs, I would worry, too.
Since etiquette, according to Mr. Brown, is to be suspended, at least on the American side of the Atlantic, I might as well observe that, in my understanding of the term, etiquette usually means a mode of carrying one’s self, not merely a hair style. If it is to be a few hairs that are shorter than the others, or something having to do with appearance or fashion, let’s do a photographic cavalcade of British golf fashions in classic photographs, especially the interesting sweaters, breeches, and tams, which we have lamentably inherited.
According to Brown, this tournament has all the ingredients for turning nasty – only in the press, to this point. These players know there are good golfers on both sides of the Atlantic, and no matter what happens this week, they’ll be friends on the international tour when it’s over, with only a few exceptions.
Heaven forbid that someone should play patriotic songs in case of a victory, as Payne Stewart did in 1991 – what could he have been thinking? The comment on going all Wallace was in poor taste, I admit, but at least the insult was delivered centuries after the real conflict, giving the UK time to let it mellow a bit.
Yes, the Ryder Cup has grown a little more tense through the years, lacking the quiet reverence to which such tournaments are accustomed. It may be, indeed, that Americans are a little loud and boisterous, or it could be that, as it has been for centuries, some overseas types have more trouble being teased than others, and are a little constipated when it comes to self-referenced humor. But, it’s a sad fact that in this day and age, some players will dress like orange cream-sicles, while others look like an old test pattern gone off the air. Even though there’s an article to be written that will fire up the home crowd, it’s time to stop worrying about fashions. Golf has never been the place to go for that, anyway. It’s time to stop longing for the days when golf sounded like sitting in a cathedral. It’s a bit more raucous now – sorry. And finally, It’s also time to stop sneering and looking down your nose at your friends across the pond – we’re not down there, Mr. Brown, win or lose.