“Suck a d***!” Such were the spewings of a foul-mouthed fan directed at Rory McIlroy at Hazeltine as he walked to the eighth tee during the Saturday afternoon matches. The venomous American supporter then, predictably, made some reference to the golfer’s split from Caroline Wozniacki.
We expect better from our hecklers. Not better behavior, but rather, better insults. Anything Wozniacki-related has been gathering dust for years. And as persona non grata, Shane Ryan wrote for Golf Digest, the barbs directed toward Danny “Thanks, P.J.” Willett weren’t much more creative.
Come on, golf bros, rack your $10 Bud Light-addled brains for better! Check out these awesome heckles if you need to be shown what a decent jibe actually looks like.
But really, relax your poses of mock indignation for a moment, talking heads of the game. The truth is, the scale of the incivility, as well as the decidedly below the belt nature of several of the remarks, lead directly to, well, things like this…
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) October 2, 2016
So, from the selfish standpoint of the golf fan watching on T.V., you have to love the heckling. Otherwise, you don’t get to enjoy the video above. Erase it from your mind, Men in Black-style.
Here’s the thing: You can bypass any arguments about “Should we allow this type of fan behavior at professional golf tournaments?” by remembering this: the Ryder Cup isn’t a “professional golf tournament.” The Ryder Cup is a sporting event.
Our expectations for fan behavior should be closer to what we expect at a Premier League match or an NFL game, not a regular tour stop.
Why? Well, people park their asses in front of the television to watch it, which is the point, right?
“Across all three days of competition from Hazeltine National Golf Club near Minneapolis, the Ryder Cup averaged 4.3M viewers for NBC Sports Group, peaking with 6.4M on Sunday on NBC, according to fast nationals. Average viewership was up 95% vs. the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland but down 22% vs. 2012 matchup at Medinah near Chicago.
“Across all digital platforms, the three-day 2016 Ryder Cup totaled 35.1 million live minutes, 487,000 unique devices and an average minute audience of 22,000. The average minute audience of 22,000 users ranks as the highest for any NBC and Golf Channel.”
And while it’s not necessarily true that increases in viewership will boost the bottom line at your local municipal track, it is true that participation ticked upward after Tiger Woods stalked onto our television screens.
Beyond all the blah-blah about “growing the game,” it’s clear presenting the Ryder Cup as an international sporting event, not a golf tournament, is the best route to big T.V. (and streaming) audiences.
And it produces some damn fine golf too.