Two things have happened recently that have been given a lot of traction and therefore merit discussion within this forum.

Two weeks ago, the microphones at the Golf Channel picked up Justin Thomas using a “homophobic slur” toward his golf ball that had failed to fall into the cup as he had hoped. To the casual viewer, it was barely audible. If it had not been brought to brighter light by the reporting staff at the Golf Channel, it probably would have disappeared without a mention.

Instead, he was met with questions after the round. It wasn’t that the putt was missed, but what he called the putt that missed. To his credit, he gave about as “stand-up” an apology as anyone could hope for. He was given a solid “attaboy” for his willingness to address the infraction head-on and it seemed as if it might be over.

In the days that followed, RLX Ralph Lauren, whose clothing line he endorses, made a business decision that it was best to distance themselves from Thomas and cancelled all contractual obligations. No one would argue their reasons to do this, or their right to do so. Simply put, where did they stand to protect the most money. That is the direction they needed to go.

Along the same timeline, in the wake of the public turmoil in Washington D.C. that was largely blamed on President Trump, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player were awarded the Medal of Freedom. To both it was a huge honor and they both accepted. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots coach and long-time Trump supporter, declined the honor, in wake of the riots.

The U.S.A. Today have proclaimed that the reputations of Player and Sorenstam “are sullied forever.”

 And that is largely because they said so?

Never mind that Player has been an ardent supporter of equal rights in South Africa for many years, in fact once going to the length of flying back to South Africa, just to participate in the national election and cast his vote for political prisoner and friend Nelson Mandela.

Sorenstam has worked to help women through her foundation in the form of grants and scholarships that might allow underprivileged youths meet their goals and live productive lives, whether through golf or other endeavors.

Rather than allow too much thought about Justin Thomas and endorsement millions from Ralph Lauren, or Medals of Freedom bestowed by a roundly despised president, I have to ask, “what comes now? How do we proceed?”

The next time Justin Thomas finishes a round and the same reporter sticks a microphone in his face, how can we just act like business is as usual. That isn’t at all natural. Calling it your job and saying, “I hope you understand,” still reminds me that you will lay me out if you get the chance. Ask Tiger what it’s like.

You’ve just cost me a great deal of money and made me look very bad, when you didn’t need to. The telecast was not enhanced in any way.

And don’t act like you are bound to some moral code, because you (the microphone carrier) don’t adhere to the same unachievable ideals that you seem to hold me to.  And, I might be fined (by the PGA tour) if I ignore your questions and don’t give you another crack at me?

The days when Mickey Mantle or John F. Kennedy were shielded by the press, to build and maintain rapport, are definitely gone.

Or in the case of Player and Sorenstam, at the end of all the travels to come to America and make good use of their time here as professional athletes and humanitarians, it can all be laid to waste by the mock-outrage of the U.S.A. Today.

Just that quick, huh?

After all of the different types of turmoil we have witnessed, trying to decide whose lives matter, whose statue needs to be torn down, who is to blame for hundred of thousands of Covid deaths or were the votes really all counted, I am focused on the real good that may come from the stand being taken. And how does this relate to this forum: the world of golf.

As I stated in our book, I view golf as a trusted friend, worthy of the highest of respect. So, I am offended when a group uses their platform to feather their cap over the back of someone who, I trust, meant no harm.

I feel like the harm was inflicted by the rising zeal of a group of moral microscopes.

I guess I am protective of golf, as it has meant so much to me, and of my students, because they have entrusted me with a partnership in the business of continued improvement within their game. I take that seriously.

Truthfully, Justin Thomas will quickly recover to a better position in the clothing world and Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam will continued to be loved and respected by the many people who know them.

And there will not be one single apology for a blind-side or jump to conclusions, because they will be on down the road searching for the next victim. That is the nature of the game they play.

Is it news-worthy? Is there a good that will come from it? Did our game grow from this experience?

What say you, DGA?


About Me

Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)

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