No matter which stand you take on each individual issue, there’s little doubt that off-course golf controversies have been dominating the headlines recently.
From Vijay Singh launching a lawsuit over the deer antler spray fiasco to other players at least talking about legal options after the USGA and R&A made official the ban on anchored putting, the controversies have come one after the other this year.
If there is any legal action on the ban, you can bet it will emphasize the fact that the R&A and USGA could have done something about anchored putting when it first began being used decades ago, but waited until players started winning majors with long putters.
While we’re on the topic of rules, both tournament officials and Tiger Woods didn’t seem to have a grip on them during the dropped-ball fiasco at the Masters, when it was actually a television viewer who phoned in the infraction, but rules aren’t the only centre of controversy.
Sergio Garcia’s ill-advised “fried chicken” comment about Tiger Woods at the European Tour Players’ Awards Dinner apparently wasn’t enough.
George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, then tried to smooth things over by saying Sergio’s friends in the U.S. are “coloured athletes.”
When the British Open rolls around this summer, one of the controversies leading up to it will be the all-male membership at the R&A and the host club at Muirfield, continuing a saga that went on for 10 years over Augusta National’s male-only membership, which came to an end last year.
Those entrenched in the golf industry look at the game from their own perspectives, likely thinking of the friends they’ve made and the good times they’ve had, so it’s difficult to comprehend that people from outside that bubble don’t look at the game the same way.
Yet, those outside the bubble are the ones we’re trying to lure to the game, but given the recent headlines, does golf look like an out-of-control wild west, where exclusion is more common than inclusion? If that’s the perception, how will they react to it?
How do minorities and women, two key demographics in growing the game, feel about some of these latest news stories? Let’s take that one step further — are these headlines enough to turn off some people already playing the game?
It may be tempting to blow off the impact of these stories, saying that they’re playing out at the upper levels, but is there a trickle down effect and does it affect golf at its grassroots?
That’s what we want to know from you in this week’s GNN Poll. You can cast your vote below or on the GNN home page and please feel free to offer your opinion in the Comments section below.
Do recent headlines about golf have the potential to negatively impact your business at the grassroots?
- NO (70%)
- YES (30%)