Brandel Chamblee committed the capital crime of golf. He said something interesting.
Chamblee, a Golf Channel analyst writing for Golf.com, gave Tiger Woods’ 2013 season a “F” grade, because of Tiger’s frequent bouts with rules violations. Chamblee suggested that Tiger was “how shall we say this … was a little cavalier with the rules.” You can read Chamblee’s piece here.
This being the genteel sport of golf, a firestorm ensued. And now Chamblee has taken to Twitter to apologize. You can read the apology story here.
“Golf is a gentleman’s game and I’m not proud of this debate,” Chamblee tweeted. “I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse.”
Typical golf nonsense. Even the most outspoken of golf personalities — which I would assume includes Chamblee — are shouted down, into submission. Chamblee gave a couple of clues in his apology. Golf is not interested in debate or discourse.
Golf rules work in the shadows. We all know that. Golf is a gentleman’s game. Police yourself. Unless, of course, you’re on television, then a million American golf fans get to police you. It’s a Salem Witch Hunt. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. In Salem, they tied anchors around the necks of accused witches and tossed them into the lake. If they drowned, everything was fine. They obviously weren’t witches. Of course, they also weren’t alive.
Same with golf, which refuses — literally refuses — to police its game. There are rule officials with every group on the PGA Tour, and they can offer interpretations and suggestions. And two hours later, the governing body can say you screwed up. Off with your head.
It’s s a maddening policy, full of enough pretense and propriety to shame Victorian England.
I have no idea if Tiger Woods cheated. One time or four times. But here’s what golf needs to do. Two options:
1. If it’s the honor code, then trust in honor. Don’t go back and make a ruling on a situation two hours or two days old. If Tiger signs a scorecard that reads 71, the 71 stands. That’s an honor code.
2. Lose the pretense. Quit pretending everybody out there is Sir Walter Raleigh, laying down his coat for the queen. These guys are all hard-boiled competitors incapable — literally incapable — of making an unbiased judgment, since they themselves are the ones involved. Give those touring rules officials the teeth to make a call. Stop disaster before it happens.
Golf is an interesting game. But it is so full of itself, sometimes it’s more than a mind can take. More cheating goes in recreational golf than in every other rec sport combined. On the competitive level, it clings to this perception of angelic purity.
And when someone has the guts to remind us that it’s just not so, the courage doesn’t last 24 hours.
Tiger Woods cheated? Golf fans are the ones who are getting cheated.
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