Golf, rowdy fans and the hard line that needs to be enforced | via John Feinstein for GolfDigest.com
Sure golf’s stakeholders want to open up the sport to new fans, some of whom aren’t familiar with the game’s traditions or general etiquette. There’s nothing wrong with this, but at the same time it’s incumbent upon the sport to help make sure things don’t get out of hand. The party/zoo that is the Waste Management Phoenix Open should be the exception, not the rule. (And even that exception needs to reign things in after some cross-the-line moments earlier this year.)
I couldn't be more pleased to see someone of the caliber of John Feinstein agreeing that the Tour needs to get ahead of this fan etiquette problem. That Mr. Feinstein is willing to lay some of the blame squarely on the Tour for encouraging poor behavior at certain tournaments is on point.
But what can the Tour do? How do you control thousands of people that have the ability to roam around an entire golf course? It only takes one person to cause a significant problem if they time it just right.
If someone is already so immature and needy (or maybe just ignorant) that they will break etiquette at a golf tournament to attract attention to themselves, how does being singled out by Justin Thomas, ejected from a tournament, and ending up all over the media not fulfill that need even more?
Yes, something needs to be done. But what? Mr. Feinstein is demanding the PGA Tour enforce stricter crowd control:
One of the things the PGA Tour likes to brag about is that golf is a gentleman’s game... OK, fine. Make your fans live up to that standard, too.
Any idea how you do that? Especially when 99% of your fans already are respectful? This isn't going to be easy.