Jason Dufner’s putter drop: Bad sportsmanship or no big deal?

Jason Dufner entered the final round at the RBC Heritage with a real chance to raise a trophy. Instead, he did his dip-lipped pout routine around the course to the tune of 76 and finished tied for 11th.

Disappointing stuff, sure, but not as disappointing as this “caddie, clean up my mess” moment from the the Duf at the fifth hole.

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Plenty of #growup and #noclass replies were flittering about the Twitterverse in response to the Skratch video (which interestingly seems to celebrate the behavior?). Some in the Twittersphere suggested that Dufner’s caddie, Kevin Baile, would be walking toward the hole to replace the flagstick, so grabbing the putter on the way wouldn’t be an inconvenience.

However, seasoned observers of the game know there are only two appropriate routes for a player to take to pass his putter to his caddie: handing it over directly or leaving it against the bag on the ground. Anything else smacks of lord and servant behavior or a master of the house and his maid…it’s just not a good look.

Famous caddie duo’s:

Alex Miceli at the MorningRead.com didn’t like what he saw, noting that Dufner’s refusal to talk with reporters for the past two years is growing tiresome.

“Dufner instead walks the fairways every week as if someone were drawing blood from his veins, lifeless and without purpose. That’s his prerogative, but most players understand that professional golf is entertainment, so they do what they can to provide fans with excitement and enjoyment.”

“Twitter respondents called Dufner’s behavior disgusting. I’d go further and say it’s despicable. Golf is a game of honor and integrity. Dufner’s actions were the opposite of those characteristics.”

Maybe we add the look of Dufner’s golf ball-sized dip and spitting here, or maybe we don’t, but it’s just not the appropriate attitude for a professional golfer. And while we may excuse a display of anger—snapped club, ball thrown in water—a behavior that looks like nothing more than a slap in the caddie’s face, even if not intended as such, should be condemned.

Of course, Dufner could get out in front of brewing controversy by explaining he was just having some fun with his caddie, or that the putter drop was part of an ongoing joke, or he was running hot and made a mistake. Any of the aforementioned would be superior to a continued media blackout.

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