UNDERCOVER TOUR PRO
Field guide to groupies and stalkers.
I’m 29. I’m in good shape but too skinny to be any ideal of male beauty. Back in college, at bars, I never felt like a magnet for attention. Walking down a beach with my shirt off, the only reason females ever look twice is to marvel at the severity of my golf tan.
But when you’re posting up in a new city every week, you’re a professional athlete, and you’re in town for an event that involves lots of local businesses and charities and their accordant dinners and parties, several with copious day-drinking, well . . . it’s a different ballgame. I get my number of catcalls from the stands. Not as many as some guys, and certainly not as many as Camilo Villegas. ( Who does?) And if there’s a common theme, it’s my pants. “Hey, nice britches.” “Hey, I like your pants. . . . No, you don’t understand. I really like your pants.”
Never mind that my wife is standing 30 feet away. Women who shout things typically aren’t the kind to bother to know if a player is married. No quick Google search or even waiting until I take my glove off to reveal my shiny band. After a few beers in the direct sun, a young lady is going to speak her mind.
Sometimes they jump the ropes. At one event I was paired with Rickie Fowler, and on this par 3 a woman comes running out after we hit our tee shots, cocktail in hand, and professes her love to Rickie. We chatted the whole way to the green, and then security got her.
If there are four tournaments single guys mark on their calendars, they’re Dallas, Phoenix, Charlotte and Hilton Head. If you’re looking for trouble, you can find it anywhere, but those four cities tend to generate the most stories. Even if you’re out in jeans and a T-shirt, the women ask pretty quickly whether you’re a pro golfer.
This past year at The Greenbrier I was on the practice putting green when an older woman got my attention. “Hey, you in the purple: My daughter lives in New York City. Want to see a picture?”
I won’t rehash the rest, but she wanted to set me up with her daughter and had no special reason for soliciting me over any other dude. Amazing.
A lot of players on social media get creepy stalkers. A close buddy had this one woman who liked and commented on his every Instagram photo for about three years. He never had the heart to block her, but then at the Memorial he notices her in the gallery. His friends overhear her telling people that she’s his girlfriend. So eventually his buddies confront her and say, “That’s funny. We’re staying in the same house as ----- this week, and he never mentioned you.”
Obviously, there’s one golfer who dominated the sport while simultaneously living wild. There’s no better case study that proves golf is played between our ears. If you’ve been out partying with a woman or women you’ve just met, that’s going to put more bounce in the step of some guys than if they ate vegetables and slept nine hours. They’re walking to the first tee thinking, I’m invincible. I’m going to make 10 birdies. I know plenty of guys who do everything right – work out, go back to the hotel room to watch TV and not even sip a beer – and all they do is miss cuts.
Some veterans say the groupie activity used to be much more in the open. That there were players who’d just pick someone out of the gallery, and they’d leave the course together. They tell you about the guys who never would’ve survived the microscope of modern media. It’s probably true that the threat of someone snapping an indelicate picture and posting it makes players more careful, but it’s probably also a case of old-timers waxing about how life used to be better.
From what I hear, the single guys are doing just fine.
I get my number of catcalls from the stands. Certainly not as many as Camilo Villegas.