Of our major professional sports, golf alone retains the lyrical innocence with which it began centuries ago among Scottish herdsmen slapping the gutta-percha ball around the bonny banks. Golf alone, despite huge purses, has remained immune to the violence and vulgarity that have turned other sports into spectacles of sanctioned mayhem. The game, as Andrew Carnegie believed, is an “indispensable adjunct of high civilization.” No other group of professionals is self-ruled by an honor code in which players call penalties on themselves. Golf etiquette prevails. Can football etiquette or hockey etiquette be imagined? Golf has no Charles Barkley, who has spit at fans. It has no John McEnroe, the obscenity-shouter, nor does it have enforcers, late-hitters, or self-absorbed clods who moan that they aren’t paid enough.
- Colman McCarthy