Saturday, June 17, 2017

The 15 People You Meet in a Golf Gallery

Before the 2014 PGA Tour season, I’d covered exactly five golf tournaments in my life. It was still a nice novelty, and I had the luxury of focusing solely on the players. This year, I’ve been to 17 tournaments, and when you’re constantly wandering from hole to hole hoping for something dramatic to happen, the mind tends to wander. At some point, I found myself focusing on the gallery.

Let me be the first to tell you: Golf fans are weird. They’re by turns boring, crazed, needy, angry, pathetic, and excessively polite. (When I told a fellow journalist I’d be writing about the different types of golf fans, his immediate reaction was, “They’re all wankers.” I don’t endorse this view … not fully.) So, here are the 15 kinds of people you meet in a golf gallery. I’m leaving off kids, since they have license to behave in ways that are far sadder (and therefore funnier) when observed in adults.


Just typing those words made me angry. Howard Stern saddled his producer Gary Dell’Abate with the nickname “Baba Booey” in 1990 because of some confusion about a cartoon called Quick Draw McGraw, stemming from his hobby of — look, it doesn’t matter. They gave him the nickname for some reason, and Stern’s fans seized on “Baba Booey” as a rally cry for all manner of high jinks, but mostly prank phone calls. Somehow it made its way into golf as the hilarious thing you yell after a tee shot, and it may have been kinda funny in 1990 for a while. In the ensuing 24 years, however, it has become the sport’s vuvuzela, shouted incessantly week after week until you want to blindly attack the entire gallery in the hopes of getting lucky and wounding the culprit. The really heartbreaking thing about the “Baba Booey!” cry, though, is that someone always laughs, adding a bit of positive reinforcement to ensure our nightmare will continue. (See also: “MASHED POTATOES!” and “YOU DA MAN!”)


I was in Memphis last week for the St. Jude Classic, and there was a guy who followed Davis Love III around from hole to hole saying, “Thanks for coming to Memphis, Davis!” in the most obsequious way possible. Love responded graciously, since he’s legitimately one of the nicest golfers around, but my god, I hated that kiss-ass. I wanted to grab him and yell, “You know he’s making money for this, right? You know he’s super rich and will become richer after this weekend?” It wouldn’t matter, because the kiss-ass was all about his own gratification. For him, that slight nod from Love was all the confirmation he needed that he was a special fan among the ungrateful rubes. I hope he fell in a pond.


It’s really, really depressing how often this happens. And how they wait against the ropes, having pushed children aside, a sad, hopeful smile on their faces as Rickie walks by. As though he’s going to stop, turn in surprise, begin laughing hysterically at the clever idea, and invite them to hang out for the rest of the round. It’s always so satisfying when he ignores them completely.


This guy usually turns up at the green when a player is about to hit out of a bunker. The second the ball comes out of the sand, “Great Shot!” guy shouts, “Ohhh, great shot!” He has no idea where the ball is going. It could stay in the fringe, roll over the green into the water, or cause a bird to explode in mid-flight. Doesn’t matter. To him, the shot was stellar the moment blade struck ball.


A cousin of “Ohhh, Great Shot!” guy. This is the person who seems like he or she has $10,000 invested in a shot, because they can’t stop screaming encouragement at the ball, regardless of who hit it. “BREAK! OH, COME ON, BREAK, BALL! OH GOD, JUST BREAK! NOOOO!” The instinct is to tap them gently on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you see that golfer out there? Just to be totally clear … you know he’s not you, right?”

by Shane Ryan, Grantland |  Read more:
Image: Erin Hills, USGA Open 2017
[ed. I was watching the US Open today and have a special distaste for fans in the Number #1 category. Some asshole (and it's always a guy) screaming "In Da Hole!" (or some similarly inane verbal fart) after every shot. Makes you want to reach through the TV and strangle them. See the post following this one.]