The Masters: "Keep Your Corporate-Sponsored Drollery Out Of Our Elitist Sporting Event"

I never thought I'd miss those stupid frogs.
I never thought I'd miss those stupid frogs. YouTube
The Masters Tournament kicked off yesterday at Augusta National Golf Club. The competition is in its 84th year, because one can never underestimate the appeal of watching a bunch of [predominantly] white dudes spoil a good walk by chasing a ball with a stick over four days.

The leadup to the 2018 tournament offered a brief moment of hilarity for the notoriously stodgy event, when it was reported course security had been given a list of phrases spectators are prohibited from saying:

Spectators who yell the phrases like "Dilly Dilly" will be removed from Augusta National at the Masters, according to a report from Bryce Ritchie of Bunkered Online.

Ritchie reports that security staff at the renowned golf course has been handed a list of sayings that are prohibited and anyone who shouts them will be "removed" immediately.
This announcement came after several weeks' worth of complaints about boorish fan behavior on the PGA tour. This year alone, Justin Thomas had a heckler ejected at the Honda Open for repeatedly yelling "Get in the bunker!" and Sergio Garcia booted a guy at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin. After the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month, Rory McIlroy suggested limiting alcohol sales as a way to help:

"I don’t know, I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think that they need to limit alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something because every week, it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more." 
Golfers complaining about something. Go figure. The thing is, while the R&A and USGA has an exhaustive list of rules for players, there's nothing governing fan behavior. Sure, the PGA has a set of fan/spectator guidelines, just like every other professional sport, but they seem to be the only ones who take it as seriously, especially with respect to the prohibition of vulgar or abusive language.

click to enlarge August National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne addresses the media. - WARNER BROS.
August National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne addresses the media.
Well, f*ck that. Obviously, security should be present to prevent physical interference with the game or its players (as is with the case in any other sport), and there are pros and cons to the gallery's proximity to the golfers themselves: a fan can't high five Jose Altuve while he's legging out a home run, for example, but neither can an NFL player necessarily hear direct insults about their wife or family. Beyond those concerns though, what is it about golf that makes it immune from a little chatter?

Let's rank these tasks in order of difficulty:
  • Hitting a Clayton Kershaw four-seam fastball into fair territory
  • Catching an over-the-shoulder touchdown pass while being covered by Patrick Peterson
  • Making a jump shot over Draymond Green with .8 seconds on the shot clock
  • Whacking a stationary ball on the ground with a stick
I'm not going to argue that hitting a golf ball onto a fairway or sinking a putt of over three feet is easy ... except I am, because scads of doughy, middle-aged office drones manage to do so on a daily basis, often while drunk. Meanwhile, every other one of those tasks listed can only be performed by elite athletes, all of whom do so while being screamed at by thousands of intoxicated idiots.

Is "Dilly dilly" an objectively stupid expression? Of course it is, and bellowing it in public is effectively the same as putting a Nike "swoosh" sticker on your back windshield: it gives free advertising to a company that will make more money in the time it takes to read this sentence than you or any of your offspring will earn in your entire lives. In this case, Anheuser-Busch (a subsidiary of InBev).

At least they aren't still promoting date rape.

Actual footage of the 2017 Masters.

Naturally, the only parties that could come out looking worse than the swill merchants at AB are the Masters and Augusta National, a club which only admitted women in 2012 (and still has only three female members). The club also leveled bans on announcers Gary McCord and Jack Whitaker, the former for joking (in 1994) that AGNC used bikini wax to make the greens so slick, the latter for referring to the 1966 crowd of Masters spectactors as a "mob." Whitaker was allowed back in 1972. McCord is still banned.

Like many Americans, I have succumbed to golf's seductive charms, meaning I've fallen asleep on my couch while it droned in the background on a lazy Sunday. But by constantly falling back on golf's hoary "gentlemen's game" mystique, clinging to their opaque notions of discipline (punishments are never revealed, or even confirmed), and wringing their liver-spotted hands at the thought of the unwashed, beer-chugging masses ruining the cathedral-like sanctity of their giant lawns, the powers that be in pro golf will continue to come across as a bunch of arrogant stiffs with a nine-iron lodged firmly up their collective asses.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar