Get Loud: What If Heckling Were Permitted In Professional Golf?

What if heckling was permitted in professional golf? The sport has a long history of class and sophistication in regards to how the game is cheered for by its audience.

Commentators have whispered as to not to disturb the player while lining up for his shot since the inception of professional golf. It is, in fact, a gentleman’s game. Maybe this is part of the negative connotation associated with golf by folks who are not fans of the sport.

There is not much buzz surrounding golf in recent history (relative to the sports giants that are the NFL and NBA) and with the most polarizing and iconic figure in PGA history admitting he may never golf again, the sport is in need of some life

The idea of golf with an edge is not a new one. You have to trace back 22 years where the film Happy Gilmore (1995) brought some controversy to the sport. Yes, the goofy comedy starring Adam Sandler was fictional and in no way realistic, but it brought some perspective to life as to how golf would be if it was no holds barred. The failed hockey player/turned golfer Gilmore chose to sport oversized hockey jerseys while roping shots 400 plus yards.

This, of course, drew the attention of a younger audience that would act as groupies and follow him to every hole while cheering and chanting as if they were at a Metallica concert. While this movie was made in 1995, it would be soon after that Tiger Woods would command a similar energy from audiences. What do Happy and Tiger have in common besides their off the course negative press? They brought something different to the game.

Now, by no means does golf need a potty-mouthed bad boy to wreck golf courses and fight alligators. But, it could use some excitement according to a British survey that had golf listed as the most boring sport. This sparked a discussion between Mike Golic and Trey Wingo on ESPN’s Mike and Mike as both stated their case, each one taking a different side:

One thing that could spice things up for the sport is to throw out respectful silence for a player during his/her stroke. Instead, while the golfer is lining up to swing, what if people were shouting and waving their hands frantically to form a distraction. We see this in just about every sport that didn’t make the “Most Boring” survey.

In college basketball, fans and mascots will do anything in order to cause an opposing player to sink a free throw. In pro football, fans cannot stay still while the kicker is attempting a field goal. There has been some rather unique heckling AFTER the player has attempted his shot in golf in recent years. This has become a cult-like tradition for fans who seek a bit more thrill from the game (or maybe they just want attention). Check out an example of a recurring heckle in golf over the past few years:

Heckling could come in a variety of ways in golf. If permitted, players would share the same rules so there would be no unfair advantage. It could be argued that once golfers are used to playing with the noise of a crowd that their focus and drives could potentially improve as men and women alike who play the game must require ice in their veins to harness the concentration required to sink a 20-foot putt.

As was recently displayed at the Presidents Cup, pumping up the fans and having the fans rooting for you loudly, rather than standing idly by, gives golf an edge that most sports already have. It just adds an element of fan participation that it desperately needs.