Golf and Peyton Place – Not Always So Different
I loved the decorum of golf a few decades ago. A gentleman’s code was adopted for the PGA. While some call that sort of thing “fake,” because humans aren’t really all that courteous, generous or unselfish, I enjoyed it as an attempt to live life the way it should be, not the way it is. It is still, in my opinion, a good thing to strive for, but I know as well as anyone that life on tour is just like life everywhere else, and includes an ongoing soap opera aspect – a Peyton Place.
Young people may not know what I’m talking about, but they can fill in the blanks with whatever show is over the top, melodramatic, and about people out of control. The Trials of Tiger, and in a sense, Tiger himself, broke open the façade of a conduct code years ago. Before there were car chases and nine-irons in the night, his belief in his inherent birthright to win everything out there created golf’s best Peyton Place in many decades.
Following all of that, other matters were allowed to come out into the open, but most didn’t offer more than a glancing blow – Vijay Singh’s “antler” case, for example, more amusing than anything else, unless you were directly involved in the case. Little dramas have popped up through the years, and most of them, we enjoy, as voyeurs and gossips. This week’s menu of Peyton Place episodes aren’t all that damaging to the game, either, except to prove that the veneer of civilized (to some, sanitized) life on tour is gone.
Dustin Johnson has turned thirty years old, and is leaving the tour for a while to address his “personal challenges.” He’s a big-time partier, what one article calls “the least-well-kept” secret in golf. No problem – on a tour like that, away from home all the time, being lonely without the right person, or not being lonely with the wrong one is common. Sober or drunk is not a question that comes into play, unless you can’t stand up on the first tee. Then, it’s a PGA matter. Few of us know what’s really going on with Dustin Johnson, but for right now, it’s the PGA’s Peyton Place, and we’re happy to sit down and watch, whether to live it vicariously, or “tsk tsk” our way through the horror. It has as much to do with us than Dustin Johnson.
Roger Allenby is having a bad week at the soaps as well. In Honolulu for the Sony Open, he missed the cut. That’s bad enough for a pro golfer who has won four times on tour, and twenty-two times internationally. On top of that, he allegedly lived a Hawaii V-O episode, without the help of Jack Lord, by being abducted at a bar, beaten up, robbed, and dumped out in a park. That’ll sure teach you to miss the cut. If he hadn’t, he’d have been in bed, and at the driving range the following morning.
No one is quite sure whether to take Allenby at his literal word. It all may be true, or part or it…or small parts of it…or none of it – who knows? The military man and the homeless woman who assisted him? The transaction in which he offered $500 each to two men for returning his possessions? Being dumped out of an automobile trunk? Allenby is 42 years old now, and hasn’t won for fourteen years, in the best years of his game. What’s going on there? Anything? Something? Nothing?
Oh great. Just as I thought the week was over, Tiger got a tooth knocked out by a TV camera. Just a little bit of Peyton Place to remind us that there’s more coming. Is the media getting like it is in politics, and riot reporting? Do we need a legally set buffer distance for player safety? And, by the way, who’s going to pay for that? Both sides can afford it.
Yes, life is the same on golf tours, as it is at home. If the manners are to hide that, it doesn’t work. If the manners are for rising above that, great. In any case, tune in next week, when Tiger says…