Its hard to escape the sense that the golfing authorities feel someone like John Daly makes the place untidy
News that the R& A is considering John Daly’s request for permission to use a buggy for July’s Open at Royal Portrush has been met by a growing chorus of people saying that it shouldn’t be. The debate seems to be that golf has worked hard not to be seen as something that fat middle-aged guys can win- I rephrase somewhat- and that Daly using a buggy would make a mockery of all that valuable progress, even though no one else would probably ever seek to do it. And even though that was one of the fun things about golf- which is, let’s face it, still not the 100 metres final.
If you missed the background to all this, Daly went round last week’s US PGA Championship in a buggy, in which he had stashed the usual pack of faggots and a McDonald’s cup. Owing to the osteoarthritis in a knee, he successfully applied under disability legislation. Alas, the decision was frowned upon by various bores, including Tiger Woods, who sniffed:” I walked with a transgressed leg …” Which, for me, served as one of those bi-weekly reminders of how it’s possible to love Timbers and utterly hate pretty much everything about him. I guess each man has his appetites to master, so it did induce me wonder if Woods ever had sex with any of his cocktail waitresses with a violated leg. If so: well done, champ. You’re a real hero.
Since then, further commentators have suggested Daly” did the sport a disservice” by insisting on a buggy, with claims that allowing him to do it again would” demean golf “.
Really? All this puts me in mind of The Day Today sketch where the serial killer Chapman Baxter is to be executed in the manner of his own choosing. This turns out to be sitting on an electric toilet, full of drugs and cheeseburgers, thereby imitating the death of his hero, Elvis Presley. The chairman of the local Elvis fan club is told by a TV news reporter that some people might say this is debasing the memory of the monarch.” No, ma’am ,” comes the answer.” King did that himself by dying on the john in a big nappy .”
And so- in a way- with golf. The idea that Daly could debase it by using a buggy is fairly adorable. Golf does that itself. The powers that be in the game debase it more than any player ever perhaps could. The absolute worst thing about golf is the people in charge of it, from club level to tour level to the R& A, and the notion that it would be desirable to hear any more from them about their interminable regulations, ever, is absurd.
The most deadly perception problem that golf has- still- is not that out-of-shape people can win at it, but that it’s rules preoccupied, elitist and would do anything it could not to share itself with people who look like you. Hey, I’m not saying you look like Daly- but I bet you look like you might like a pint with him. And that, as far as the disapprove bears in charge of a game they don’t actually own are concerned, is the thin end of the wedge.
Still, what a wedge! I imagine it starts with” only one pint”, then objective 72 hours later in Rio, with no idea how you got there, playing tee shootings off the arms of Christ the Redeemer.