With Continuing Ryder Cup Drama, Golf Not so Different After All?
Jonathan Swift’s observance that “Falsehood flies, truth limps in after” may serve as a caution for the day in considering the continuing soap opera that is the losing American Ryder team’s behavior – before, during, and after the event. Purportedly, there was a dust-up between Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, two friends who are also work-out partners. During the Sunday night “un-celebration,” the two nearly came to blows, with Koepka threatening to “flatten” his friend. Having taken on the nickname of the “Bash Brothers,” the row between the two seems to have come out of Johnson’s marital troubles with Pauline Gretzky, with whom he has two children. Dustin has allegedly grown close to notable socialite Yassie Sofari, and Gretzky is said to have sought comfort with Koepka, who provided it, angering Johnson. Further reports, sourced from a French publication, L’Equipe, describe a similar uprising on the team plane, but details are sketchy. In the spirit of Swift, Koepka denies that any of these incidents occurred, and how are we to know? Actually, I don’t need to know. I’m just wondering if it was girl/boy stuff that partly contributed to a generally listless performance on the course and an antagonistic backlash directed at collegiality. No one seems to be attacking Europeans, who kept their golf games straight and their relationships out of the news. As for me, I am grateful to have never worked as a gossip columnist, at least until today.
In a separate corner of the room, team backlash is coming in against Patrick Reed, who complains that he was forced to play with Tiger Woods instead of Jordan Spieth, where things would have gone better. Reed suggests that someone with as much success as he has had at the Ryder should have been utilized in a more effective manner. However, sources within the team suggest that Reed would have shot an 83 playing his own ball, and “has no clue how to play team golf.” It is further suggested that Reed all but “begged” to play with Tiger. As for Reed’s attack on Furyk, the same source asserts that the American captain was superb, and “would have run through a wall for all 12 of the guys. Unfortunately, there were only 11 players that would have returned the favor.” Other responses to Reed include a lexicon of vulgarity, as the Masters Champion cements his legacy as the Eeyore of the golf world.
Of greater pain to Koepka is the unfortunate injury of a fan who lost her sight in one eye after being struck by one of his shots. He and the Ryder organization have rallied around the cause to do whatever can be done to minimize her suffering, but there is talk of a lawsuit with multiple defendants. That’s a tricky one. As fans, we understand what is taking place when we stand behind the ropes. There is a risk that requires our attention and concentration. On the other hand, as an experienced gallery member, there are some shots against certain backgrounds that are nearly impossible to see. People are yelling “Fore! Fore!” while I am yelling “Where is it? Where is it?”
Ryder Cup aside, it makes me wonder about the game of golf. I have always set it aside from other games and sports as a gentleman’s (gentlewomen’s) pursuit, with a code of ethics and courtesy. I also thought that of those who went into golf, some of that quality must be a natural component of their personalities. Now, I’m not so sure. I think that perhaps it was true of golf’s founders, and the ensuing tradition of keeping golf personally noble. However, whether we put a cowboy hat, a hockey helmet or a golf visor on it, the golfers on tour are much like every other sportsman. Every personality type is represented in the profession, and the ego of the human race resides there as well.
Here, then, is a possible recipe for future Ryder Cups or other match play events with a lot of surrounding hoopla. Get the best golfers you can find, have everyone get their own plane ticket to the site, scrap the team plane – Events featuring dinners, galas, etc. should come after the golf has been played, and should not be held in palaces where three-hundred year old china can get broken, Any hint of bad relationships might try a few months of therapy before venturing into the world-wide golfing public, and “making a scene” deposits might be required, non-refundable if anyone embarrasses or cheapens the event, especially on camera.
I guess I’m just kidding with a lot of this, but it would be nice the next time around to have the Ryder Cup be the thing, not a scientific study of what’s going on between twelve American golfers.