Teed Off (Sep. 15, 2013)
with Robert Bicknell
There has been a fascinating argument on how to boost golf rounds in the US. Predictably, many people are ready to toss out the baby with the bath water in an effort to generate more profits for themselves.
Yes, these are the same people who always want what they want when they want it and nobody better get in their way. They are Yuppies who now own golf courses and what they want is profits and since they have never felt any connection with tradition, golf's history is nothing to them.
The biggest complaints seemed to be centered around clubs enforcing dress codes and, of course, people not wanting to learn how to play the game properly, so they want to make it easier with bigger holes (cups), shorter holes, etc.
I am surprised they don't want to encase each hole with netting so balls don't go into the trees.
One gentleman, who shall remain nameless, was furious that he went to play golf in Europe and they wouldn't let him in the clubhouse dining room in Ferrari driving shoes and jeans. Yes, those are the same driving shoes which look like a really nice pair of sneakers - which would be naturally forbidden at upscale European clubs - as well as many private US clubs.
He is also one of the people leading the charge to force clubs to recognize "trends" and allow players in jeans and tee shirts onto the course.
Yes, I can just imagine how enjoyable golf would be with kids out there with jeans hanging below their butts, wearing a "you suck" T-shirt and their hats on backwards. I suppose these trend gurus also think its fine for each golf car to do wheelies and come equipped with ghetto-blasters pumping out the latest rap song or something.
While I am not a hardcore fanatic about formal dress in the dining room, I do think players should observe a modicum of decorum when playing golf.
Shirts should have collars, shorts should be knee length and soft spikes only. Other than that, I don't care if you match canary yellow slacks with an orange shirt and blue shoes. That's your problem. However, I would recommend seeing either an eye doctor or a psychiatrist and it could explain why people don't like to be seen in public with you.
At almost all of my clubs here in Viet Nam over the last 20 years, we have insisted on proper attire on the golf course. Sure, there were times when guests showed up wearing T-shirts and jeans and they were not allowed on the course unless they changed clothes. In most cases, they either bought a shirt from the pro shop, or rented one from the locker room.
Yes, we used to do that.
Inside the clubhouse, however, almost anything was fair game, except for some ridiculous occurrences, such as the time a member decided to sit in the dining room wearing only a towel. Other less strange, but still unacceptable, occurrences were players taking off their shirts in the dining room or picking their bare feet on the table.
In ALL those cases, the member or guest was spoken to and the problem solved immediately. In every case, it wasn't repeated… at least, not by the same person.
Granted, most of these episodes happened years ago, before golf became popular and local players more educated about what was and what was not permissible. Printing "Members Handbooks" which covered all the rules helped a lot too.
Unfortunately, there are some people who believe that golf, like every other venue in the world should listen and follow "trends".
These are probably the same people who think Miley Cyrus's recent music video of her riding a wrecking ball naked while licking a sledgehammer is just part of the current "trend".
These gurus have given up any pretense of ethics in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
I agree that the clubs of our fathers should not be the clubs of our children, but I do feel there should be a line drawn which we do not cross. We should hold people responsible for their actions, just as the game itself does. We should strive to set a proper example of behavior, just as the Rules of Golf demands.
Without rules and boundaries, we will slowly find ourselves thinking Miley Cyrus is normal. — VNS