Teed Off (20-02-2011)
with Robert Bicknell
First it was cursing, then cheating on his wife, now the powers-that-be have nailed Tiger Woods for "spitting". Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.
During the Dubai Desert Classic, last week, Tiger Woods was fined by the European Tour for spitting on the 12th green during the final round.
We often say that golfers are expected to be ladies and gentlemen at all times and to, hopefully, lead by example. This is yet another demonstration of the rules in action.
Look, who would want to pick up their ball after it rolled in someone's spit?
What's worse, nowadays, many players have given up smoking, but a few of them have substituted "smokeless tobacco", which is another way to say "dipping tobacco, moist snuff, spit tobacco, chawburger or a lip".
Anyone who has ever watched a baseball game, or a movie with a redneck sheriff, knows what follows after the tobacco is placed between the lip and gum…
Spitting…lots of it. I've seen camels spit less than most smokeless tobacco users and baseball players let it fly all over the place. On the grass, on the base paths, on the pitchers mound or, if they dislike the umpire's call, on his shoes.
They spit in car parks, out the window of the car, on the sidewalks and, when they are in more genteel settings, into an empty water or beer bottle.
Yes, I too am waiting to actually see someone who was drinking and smoking confuse the two bottles. It would make my day.
As more golfers look for ways to improve their health, they are dropping cigarettes in favour of smokeless tobacco, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are improving their health as studies show smokeless tobacco causes cancer just like cigarettes do. The difference is the location of the cancer.
While cancer of any kind is not something to look forward to, somehow I think having my lower jaw removed would be the more objectionable of treatments.
Cigarettes result in second-hand smoke, which has been proven to cause serious health issues for people exposed to it. Smokeless tobacco, on the other hand, doesn't pose a health hazard to anyone not actively using the stuff…
Unless, of course, you slip on their spit wad and fall in front of a speeding bus.
Yes, there are forms of smokeless tobacco called "Snus" which do not induce copious amounts of spitting, but the jury is still out in regards to the level of damage it can do to your health.
Considering the vast amount of land on a golf course, players are going to spit and, occasionally, do like the bears do in the trees if they've had too many beers at the drink kiosks. However, there are places where spitting should definitely be off limits, such as the greens and tee boxes.
Bobby Jones' message to players at the Masters' under the heading conduct, customs and etiquette, says, "In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play."
In other words, don't spit.
Funny enough, in the old days, you hardly saw any pros on Tour spitting. In fact, I remember my uncle commenting on this fact when we discussed the differences between professional athletes while watching a baseball game.
His comment was succinct: "Golfers don't spit."
Tiger Woods changed all of that due to his allergies. When sinuses act up, the result is usually spitting. Sadly, the idea of carrying a handkerchief, like Greg Norman and other more gentlemanly players used to do in the old days seems less macho.
If memory serves, didn't Sergio Garcia spit into the cup at a tournament at Doral at one time or another? That would be a definite no-no and disgusting as all hell. He deserved a slap for that one.
If Tiger hits the gym, other players follow suit. If he spits, other players do so as well. It's a pack mentality out there nowadays, which isn't a good thing.
It will be a truly sad day when golf courses have to put up signs like they do in Hong Kong, reminding people not to pee in the elevators or spit in the swimming pools…
Some things shouldn't need to be said. — VNS