Monday, December 08, 2003



How did it happen that golf became cool?

All of a sudden, I know people who can go to punk clubs and debate important issues of the day (qualities I think of as implying a certain level of coolness), who also golf. Being cool has always implied a certain sophistication and forward-thinking. Coolness implies being culturally outside the mainstream. Golf is none of this.

I have played golf. I have played golf sober, I have played golf drunk. I have even played golf while tripping on acid. I have enjoyed a round of golf, and I have found a round of golf to be the most painful hours of my life. Before I go further, I want to make clear that I do not really hate the game of golf. That is tempered, of course, by my disdain for the culture and politics of golf.

Mark Twain's philosophy that golf is just a good walk ruined might be true depending on your golfing companions. A round of golf with people you like, admire, or respect might be enjoyable. Otherwise, it might just be a good walk ruined.

Friday night it snowed in New York and I needed to make my way to The Continental at St. Mark's and Third to see Dead Blonde Girlfriend. I take the N/R from 34th Street to 8th Street and I land pretty close to the venue.

While waiting for the train, I was talking to two Filipino guys who work at the local bodega. One was wearing a Yankees cap, which is standard fare in New York, and the other was wearing a Nike Golf cap. It got me thinking about two things in particular.

First, I am no fan of Nike. I have boycotted them since I learned about their slave labor practices, and they took such a hostile stance against the ensuing criticism. There are plenty of corporations that have bad business practices, but they are generally contrite when exposed, and they make an effort to change. Nike has been downright offensive in the pride they take in their business practices. Be that as it may, I will never purchase their products. I will not have an Arsenal kit or a MetroStars jersey because they are manufactured by Nike and include the dreadful little tick. I can no longer by Converse Chuck Taylors because they have been bought by Nike.

Second, Golf is the only professional sport that still convenes and competes in whites-only venues. This is the 21st Century! It is one thing that whites-only clubs even exist, there is little to be done about that. To have the Professional Golf Association compete at these clubs is unforgivable.

So, I didn't like his Nike Golf cap.

I remember a few years back, some jerk named Payne Stewart got on ESPN and was angry that people outside the game of golf would criticize the PGA for playing at a whites-only country club. What a jerk! This idiot was defending the PGA's right to use a whites-only country club and was belligerent about the criticism it evoked! Can you spell clueless?

The professional associations that control sports, like the MLB, PGA, NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, WWE, et al., are the organizations that define the culture of the sport. To say that the culture of baseball is not defined by Major League Baseball would be folly; same with football and hockey and basketball and their respective organizations. It's just simple socio-economic analysis for which one need not possess a college degree. In that same vein, the PGA defines the culture of golf.

In case you might be confused at this juncture: It is NOT cool to belong to a whites-only club. It is NOT hip or cool to support a whites-only club by contracting to perform at the venue. It is NOT hip or cool or sophisticated to defend or support idiots like Payne Stewart and the PGA who do business with these people.

Members of whites-only clubs are dull. Those who support that sort of organization by giving them business are dull. Defending the existence of those clubs and the right to do business with them is dull. It is not wrong or bad, just dull.

Golf culture is dull because it is the last bastion of this sort of All-American segregation. This means that golf cannot be cool. Segregation is not cool. Ever! No high-tech, glitzy ad campaigns can make golf cool. Even eXtreme golf, if ever there will be such a thing, will not make golf cool. As long as there are whites-only country clubs for golf, golf cannot be cool.

It's really simple. Golf is not cool. Ever. So, go ahead and enjoy golf . . . just please stop pretending it's cool! Hide it. Be ashamed of it!