Bunker Men­tal­ity

For a game such as golf so tied-up by rules and ham­strung with eti­quette, spit­ting is a blight on the game. As the pro­fes­sion­als mostly of the PGA TOUR va­ri­ety - empty to con­tents of their mouth with im­punity, im­pres­sion­able young­sters inevitably mimic th

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Mike Wil­son

For a game such as golf so tied-up by rules and ham­strung with eti­quette, spit­ting is a blight on the game.

Watch­ing the world’s finest male golfers go about their busi­ness can be a con­fus­ing pas­time one minute in awe of their raw ath­leti­cism, per­fect judg­ment or sub­tle touch; the next be­ing re­pulsed as they, all too com­monly, spit on the tee, green, fair­way, in­deed any­where they deem con­ve­nient.

It’s noth­ing new. The ‘King’ Arnold Palmer was not be­yond ex­pec­to­rat­ing at a cru­cial mo­ment. More re­cently, big, bad John Daly was of­ten to be seen dis­charg­ing the con­tents of his mouth, mainly in anger at a missed putt or way­ward drive. In re­cent years, Tiger Woods, Ser­gio Gar­cía, Kee­gan Bradley and now world number-one John­son ap­peared to have in­creas­ingly aimed their spit­tle onto the field of play.

World No. 1 John­son was roundly - and cor­rectly - crit­i­cised for his near-con­stant spit­ting dur­ing last year’s BMW Cham­pi­onship at Crooked Stick, which he won by three thanks to a gob-smack­ing sec­ond round 63. He may be one of the worst of­fend­ers, but he’s not alone.

There are three mit­i­gat­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics to a habit that is nei­ther big nor clever. Firstly, there may be Amer­i­can cul­tural im­pli­ca­tions re­lat­ing to the equally dis­gust­ing habit of chew­ing to­bacco, some­thing DJ, it is said, is wont to do dur­ing his round.

Se­condly, un­like foot­ball - as­so­ci­a­tion and Amer­i­can - and other in­tensely phys­i­cally de­mand­ing sports, where re­mov­ing ex­cess saliva from the sys­tem is an es­sen­tial part of the process, golfers do not need to clear their air­ways dur­ing a round of golf.

Thirdly, all golfers are crea­tures of habit, of rou­tine, of the process. And once a spit­ting man­ner­ism has been in­tro­duced to the tech­nique, whether in sat­is­fac­tion at a drive boomed long and straight or in anger as an­other three-foot putt lips-out, it’s hard to re­move.

But let’s also con­sider two other fac­tors with two ques­tions.

First, ever seen an LPGA Tour player emp­ty­ing the con­tents of her mouth on course, either in plea­sure or dis­plea­sure?

The an­swer, of course not; spit­ting is an af­flic­tion of the male species, per­haps em­bed­ded in the old Spaghetti West­erns, a sign of mas­culin­ity, tough­ness, re­solve.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong

© PressReader. All rights reserved.