If y’all didn’t know anything about Colin Montgomerie’s golfing career, you’d think he’s one of the most stuck up, hoity-toity pieces of human shit in the entire world. A byproduct of generations of British inbreeding amongst the elite class. The first example people use to suggest golf isn’t a sport. A blithering idiot choker who was one of the mentally weakest golfers to ever play the game.
And you’d be right about everything other than the last part.
Colin Montgomerie, for all his pomp and classist bullshit, is one of the toughest, grittiest, balls out golfers of recent vintage. I’m dead serious. Monty was a short hitter who didn’t generate a lot of clubhead speed, a solid putter but deadly accurate with his irons. For all the grief given to him regarding his never winning a major, he finished second in five of them, JUST missing out on four of them. He accumulated the second most Ryder Cup points in history, and in eight Ryder Cup teams, went undefeated in singles and sported a sterling 20-9-7 record while holing out the winning putts in 1997 and 2004. Monty overcame a lack of visceral talent with unrelenting tactics…a mentally weak player with Monty’s skill set is an anonymous club pro giving lessons to rich kids, not winning seven straight (eight total) European Orders of Merit.
So, before we start bashing that Ms. Doubtfire looking motherfucker for being a prim little douchebag, understand that it’s only because he’s a prim little douchebag and not because he didn’t live up to his potential. I’d argue that he maximized his talent as much as anyone in the game, because guys that hit the ball like that typically disappear quickly.
Wow…quite the lede, right? While it might surprise you that I think highly of Monty as a player, what garbage came out of his mouth probably won’t.
“I don’t think the golf fans in America are members of golf clubs in the way they are here.”
More after the jump.
This attitude is all-to prevalent in golf, even these days. While golf’s always been behind in terms of being socially progressive, it’s a fairly welcoming sport for normal people. There’s always been a divide between municipal and private golfers, but with the economy going to shit, both sides have a vested interest in keeping the game alive either by allowing non-members to play private courses or growing the game to new audiences that might not get into it otherwise.
But the attitude like Monty’s is still alive, unfortunately. Where golf is a true gentleman’s game that should be played only by the elite. Now, this could be a thoroughly British sentiment, something that I, being American, can’t grasp, but regardless, I think we can all agree that shitting on fellow golf enthusiasts doesn’t accomplish anything aside from making the quotee look like a total prick. The backlash will be predictably fierce, probably even moreso since Monty has a history of run-ins with American golf fans, that Paul Casey didn’t have when he said “Americans are stupid. I hate them,”* and called us “bloody annoying.”
*It ALWAYS pissed me off something fierce when Casey said he was misquoted because it was hypocritical to begin with. Even if he didn’t really say Americans are stupid, the fact remains he came to America to play college golf, make a career and he even married an American chick. Monty has a somewhat legit beef…Casey never did.
I often play rounds with people I’ve never met. I’d say 90% of the time, it’s usually a blast and the round enjoyable for everyone even though we all just met…one of the best things about golf. It doesn’t matter that we’d never met, the common bond was golf, and anyone serious about the game is going to enjoy the company of another who’s just as passionate.
But every once in awhile, I’ve been paired up with or been in a group in front or behind of the other kind of golfer…the asshole.
Assholes are unavoidable and you’ll find them in every walk of life, and golf is no different. Earlier this year, I was playing a course that might have had two groups on the entire property, so I was playing rather fast. I catch up to a twosome of guys my age that I perceived as a couple of country club kids slumming it, and since I was by myself, figured they’d have no problem letting me pair up or play through. Even asking this question in an exceedingly polite fashion brought a look of disgust to both their faces and gave me the wonderfully cordial response “na, we’re good,” forcing a single to wait behind a group that had nobody in front of them*.
*The hole was a short par 4…after they both finally got to the green, I striped a 5-iron in the middle and sat there waiting in the fairway with a wedge, practicing my swing. They finish up (both took 6’s) and drive off away from the next hole, never saw them again that day, but won’t forget what they looked like since they were such assholes. And, for the record, I hit my wedge 20 feet long but sank the putt for birdie.
Another example happened a month ago when I was playing a Donald Ross-designed country club that just recently went public. Was in a group with a partner at one of the biggest law firms in Cleveland*, his girlfriend and a friend of his and the group behind us were a man and his wife, and two 20-somethings, one of which was dressed just like Rickie Fowler. The douchebag alarms should’ve been ringing the minute I saw that blueberry looking motherfucker…
*Along these same lines, lets just say I’m not exactly the most kempt individual. I have a big bushy beard and dress for comfort and usually have a giant dip in, but this lawyer, who was clearly a country club aficionado, didn’t mind at all or treat me like some punk kid. Every golfer should receive the same type of courtesy, regardless if they show up wearing jeans and a wife beater or the sharpest Burberry…if the golf ball doesn’t care what you look like or where you came from or how much money you make, neither should the golfer.
So we’re on a par 5 when, all of the sudden, the lawyer’s friend jumps away from his chip…dodging a ball landing two feet away from him. No “FORE”…nothing. So we finish, the group comes up to the hole and I see Rickie Faggot (apologies to any decent homosexual beings who might be offended) go to the ball that almost hit our partner and say “hey, you almost hit him, can we get a ‘fore’ next time?” No response, no “sorry.”
Next hole’s a par 3 with the par 4’s tee box right over the green…I’m about to tee off, literally starting my downswing when a ball lands two feet next to me. Again…no “fore.” Now, we’re starting to get hot…pissed off-edly try to finish the hole when just as the lawyer’s girlfriend is going to putt, a ball lands on the green. The lawyer calls the clubhouse to let them know about the group behind and we try our best just to finish our round and move on and on the next hole, a par 4, it comes to a head.
The lawyer’s friend and I both hit our drives in the fairway while the lawyer and his girlfriend hit theirs in the left rough. We were waiting for the group in front to clear off the green (so we were getting hit into even though we couldn’t play any faster with a jammed up course) in the fairway when we hear a ball hit the cart and the lawyer’s girlfriend hold her head, where she was hit off the ricochet and run over to see if she’s ok. And as we’re running over, a ball lands two feet away from the lawyer’s friend. Enough is enough…the lawyer drives back to the group, gets the kids’ information (adults don’t mark their balls with flourescent Sharpies that often) and said he was going to sue them both* (I wouldn’t doubt him), but it was their response that blew me away. Instead of apologizing or acting contrite in any fashion whatsoever, the Rickie Fowler looking douchebag takes his ball back and just says “ok.”
*The lawyer was hilarious…after getting all hot and pissed after confronting those assholes, he goes par, birdie, par on a tough finishing stretch.
Here’s the ultimate point of this post…if you play the game of golf, even once or twice per year, it’s a humbling experience. I just cannot fathom how anyone who’s played that much of the game can be such a entitled, arrogant prick since the game itself lets you know, fairly frequently, how shitty you truly are, even for the best of the best. There’s a certain fraternal bond between golfers that’s similar to the bond shared between prisoners…”I feel your pain. I know what you’re going through.”
So when Monty says some shit about “American golf fans must not be members of a club,” I instantly bristle like an angry porcupine. You’re damn right I don’t act like a member of a club if YOU, Monty, are exemplar of the club attitude. You’re not anything special because you’re a member of some private societal institution…maybe you would be if it were an institution that actually meant something, like a fellowship of intellectuals or doctors or scientists…but a member of recreational golfers? THAT gives you a sense of superiority?
You know what gives me a sense of superiority over you, Mr. Club Member Monty? That I, a passionate golfer, will play with anyone, anywhere at any time and not treat them like they’re beneath me simply because I (in this hypothetical) pay a monthly due to play golf somewhere. That I, as a public golfer, know more about etiquette and decent behavior than you’ll ever show. That I, a male, don’t have breasts.
So, to finish off this hour of Monty’s Moobs, I give you a funny story from Steve Elkington…
That would be the 1995 World Match Play at Wentworth. I had beaten him in a playoff for the PGA Championship at Riviera a couple months earlier, so when we got paired in the second round, it was being built up over there as a rematch, a chance for him to gain revenge.
Anyway, we’re having lunch in the clubhouse there, which is a castle. Lisa and I are eating a little sandwich off in the corner. Monty has maybe 25 people at his table, royalty and all, with a fabulous buffet. Part of the spread is this huge custard castle, a replica of the one we’re eating in. So Monty gets up and goes toward the custard, and he wiped out the whole west side of the clubhouse, an entire custard wing including maybe part of the locker room. I think to myself, Isn’t that nice of Monty, scooping up all that custard for all those people at his table to share? Well, damned if he doesn’t sit down and eat the whole thing himself. I turned to Lisa and said, “There ain’t a man alive who can eat that much custard and beat me.” I won, 2 and 1.
If you want any more proof to my point that treating other people like they’re human is the best way to handle yourself, you need look no further than the public perception of Monty vs. Steve Elkington. Elk is loved, even though he’s got a reputation as a dickhead competitor. They both have similar personalities, both can be grating, but Elk is a genuinely nice person who loves stories and loves to have a good time, no matter if you’re a country club brat, a golf psychopath or a Jim Rome caller and people love that. Jack Nicklaus was a country club kid, but he was legendary for his social grace and humility…and he had a career that dwarfs yours, as impressive as it may be, Monty.
A little self-effacy goes a long way, in the public’s eye. It’s easier to relate to someone who doesn’t think they’re inherently superior. Maybe it’s just an English thing, but regardless, that antiqued attitude of golf being a game only for the elite is not only kind of stupid, but it’s damaging to the health of the game.
So, in summary…fuck off Monty.