It was a remarkable weekend in the golf world, though there’s absolutely no clear reason why I should care. Call me the accidental fan.
At this year’s U.S. Open golf tournament, a 22-year-old kid named Rory McIlroy smashed a few records. He became just the sixth man in U.S. Open history to lead the tournament wire-to-wire without finishing any round in a tie. He posted the lowest score in tournament history, a 16-under 268 that crushed the old mark of 272. At one point Sunday, he reached 17-under par, the lowest score ever achieved in a U.S. Open. Pretty impressive for a golfer at any age.
No Golf Chops Here...
When you think of exuberant golf fanatics, I (or someone like me) would be the last person you’d think of. I’ve only played one round of golf in my life that wasn’t miniature golf. It was on a public, par-three course, and I did it just for the experience. I’ve never stood in the gallery at a tournament, though the drive from my home to Augusta, GA, home of golf’s premier major, the Masters, is less than three hours.
So why do I make it a point of watching the Masters, the U.S. Open, the PGA tournament and the British Open on TV every year—the final rounds in particular? I imagine most people who watch golf on TV are avid golfers who are following the icons of their sport. And from what I gather, people who aren’t into the sport themselves liken viewing it to watching grass grow, paint dry and Britney Spears movies. Unbearable.
So What’s My Attraction?
Acres and acres of ground to cover. Tiny ball. Tiny hole. Of all major sports, golf requires the greatest precision from its players. The game also demands civil conduct. I’ve never seen a fight break out at a golf tournament. Sure, a player might break a club in frustration (which actually happened during this U.S. Open), but at least he didn’t break it over someone’s head. The call for civil conduct applies to spectators, too, and they generously comply.
I’m intrigued by the assessment made by a golfer before he or she makes a putt. What exactly are they looking for when they crouch behind their ball, face the hole and survey the terrain? Does the green break right? Left? Exactly which and how much “club” will it take to make the shot? A hole in one is as exciting as a grand slam in baseball, and they happen much less frequently. When a young phenom like Rory McIlroy, whose lead and game collapsed during the last round only two months earlier at the Masters, redeems himself royally at golf’s next major tournament, it’s a thrill—even for a non-golfer like me.
I hope they threw that talented young man a huge party last night, complete with great food, great music, golf party favors for everyone—and numerous champagne toasts to a champion who’s got the world on a tee and a swing that would make Duke Ellington jealous!