Rory McIlroy once again mentioned that the crowds at PGA Tour events are getting a little out of hand. This time it was during the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he would go on to win, his first victory since September 2016.
After the third round, McIlroy suggested the PGA make a change to help keep the crowds in check.
“There was one guy out there who kept yelling my wife’s name,” said McIlroy. “I was going to go over and have a chat with him. I don’t know, I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think that they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves and whatever, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy it can get a little much. It used to be like you bring beers on to the course or buy beers but not liquor. And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail or whatever. So, I don’t know whether it’s just go back to letting people walk around with beers in their hand, that’s fine, but, I don’t know.”
Obviously, this point of view won’t be thrilling for many fans to get behind, but he’s not wrong. Every major sport cuts off alcohol sales at a certain time. The NFL cuts off beer sales after the third quarter, MLB the seventh inning, and NHL at the end of the second period, so why is it a stretch for a PGA Tour event to essentially do the same?
Golf, as much as it may upset some, is a sport of etiquette and politeness — apart from the Waste Management Phoenix Open and possibly the Ryder Cup — where fans get very rowdy. But, not every event needs to replicate what happens in Phoenix. While fun once a year, it does turn a lot of people off, especially those with young kids who like to enjoy the day while watching the greatest golfers on the planet.
“It’s obviously a lot of tournaments see how successful Phoenix is and they want to try to replicate that, which is great,” said McIlroy. “It’s great for the tournament; it’s great for us. But golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved. You don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out. You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
Having some drunk guy yell at golfers next to a kid isn’t exactly family-friendly, and even though that type of behavior is acceptable at other events, for some reason, it doesn’t need to be for golf to be successful.
Call me old fashioned, stuck-up, whatever you want, but I see no problem with starting the alcohol sales at say 10:00 a.m and cutting them off at 3:00 p.m. when most tournaments run till 6:00 p.m. or later, or even varying the cutoff time by venue. Yes, I’ve been to tournaments both as a spectator and inside the ropes, and I’ve enjoyed both, but after walking alongside some of the best during their rounds, it is astonishing what they listen to and put up with (and I have yet to follow Tiger Woods around).
It also levels the playing field a little. Most spectators aren’t drunk at 8:30 in the morning when many golfers are just teeing off or even noon when the early times are nearing completion of their rounds. The guys that go off early are getting a much more refined atmosphere during their play while the guys who tee off later in the day must deal with drunkards yelling, “GET IN THE HOLE” after a drive on a par-4.
Annoying. Side note – if you’re among this obnoxious group, you should be tossed for being a moron.
McIlroy’s comments come on the heels of both he and Justin Thomas acknowledging that the crowds surrounding Tiger Woods – who if you haven’t heard is back – are out of hand, and after Thomas had a fan tossed for heckling him over the course of a round.
As hard as it will be to police, it’s an idea to help keep things just a little bit friendlier, which, if we’re all being honest with ourselves, is what makes golf so enjoyable to watch in person.