The joys of golf – Ryder Cup trash talk
For those of you who know nothing about golf and care less, a chap called P J Willett is all over the social media – and the national newspapers – today because of his disparaging remarks about American golf fans in National Club Golfer, a magazine aimed at obsessive-compulsive hackers like me.
P J, or Pete, as he’s probably known to his brother Danny, the current US Masters champion, has pulled off a masterstroke. He’s made the owners of National Club Golfer very happy by increasing its readership by a factor of a hundred. He’s pissed off his brother, who is busy preparing to help European team to retain the Ryder Cup by beating those nasty Americans on their home soil. And he’s guaranteed himself everlasting fame – well, at least five-minutes-worth – for an eloquent put-down of our delightful, enthusiastic cousins who follow golf in the United States.
Here’s some of what he said:
“Team USA have only won five of the last 16 Ryder Cups. Four of those five victories have come on home soil. For the Americans to stand a chance of winning, they need their baying mob of imbeciles to caress their egos every step of the way. Like one of those brainless bastards from your childhood, the one that pulled down your shorts during the school’s Christmas assembly (f**k you, Paul Jennings), they only have the courage to keg you if they’re backed up by a giggling group of reprobates. Team Europe needs to shut those groupies up.
They need to silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling, irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.
They need to stun the angry, unwashed, Make America Great Again swarm, desperately gripping their concealed-carry compensators and belting out a mini-erection inducing ‘mashed potato,’ hoping to impress their cousin.
They need to smash the obnoxious dads, with their shiny teeth, Lego man hair, medicated ex-wives, and resentful children. Squeezed into their cargo shorts and boating shoes, they’ll bellow ‘get in the hole’ whilst high-fiving all the other members of the Dentists’ Big Game Hunt Society.”
A rant of the first order, don’t you think? Actually, in the article he also says some interesting stuff about parallels between golfers and the students he teaches. But the remarks that caught the eye were not guaranteed to give brother Danny an easy ride as he tries to concentrate on his putting in front of thousands of these baying barbarians. The champ issued apologies all round. Team captain Darren Clarke huffed and puffed with outrage, and rival skipper Davis Love III affected lofty disdain.
Since then, P J has maintained a judicious silence, on Twitter at least.
Others, in an attempt to defend him, said that Americans don’t get irony. This could be true in the case of many Americans, but not Trump supporters, who cheer gleefully when their leader insults whole swathes of his fellow citizens, and even more when he says he’s only kidding. There’s irony, and then there’s rearranging someone’s face and then saying I didn’t mean it, and can’t you take a joke?
Anyway, I’m deeply jealous of P J, first because he’s a talented writer who clearly has an alternative career when he gets fed up with teaching. And second, because he has a famous brother he can take down, ironically of course. How many siblings have longed to do that after decades in the shadow of a high-achieving brother or sister? Americans will appreciate that sentiment. In the seventies, Billy Carter, Jimmy’s beer-swilling redneck brother, did a fair job of embarrassing the President. Since then, just about every celeb has had to put up with an inconvenient relative emerging from obscurity to dish the familial dirt. As for me, I’m sad to say that my siblings are all worthy people who have never known fame, and I have no old scores to settle with my poison pen.
Turning to the subject of his brickbats, P J manages to skewer several popular stereotypes – the obese, NRA members, the sartorially inelegant, divorcees, spoilt kids, Prozac poppers and people who travel to Africa to shoot animals on the endangered species list. And he manages to do all this without one reference to Donald Trump, something that I regularly fail to achieve.
Very unkind, especially as we European supporters don’t exactly set high standards of decorum. An American counterpart to P J might easily refer to the Camembert-eating surrender monkeys, the Scots with their deep-fried Mars bars, boozed-up Irish and neanderthal Englishmen who regularly patronise our great sporting events.
And I think P J knows in his heart that without the rowdies, the Ryder Cup would be as boring as a golfing seniors event, where retired colonels sip tea from their thermos flasks and occasionally pierce the silence by muttering “good shot” when a hero from yesteryear manages to remind us what once made him great.
So I say bring it on. Let the fans throw as many insults as they like. Let them crunch on potato chips and pork scratchings while the lads wind up their back-swings. As long as they don’t actually take out one of the competitors with an assault rifle, let anything go.
The Ryder Cup is a glorious competition in the most ancient traditions of “sport”, from gladiators to bear-baiting and bare-knuckle boxing. And believe me, this contest, set in the heartland of Middle America, will be the most raucous and emotionally incontinent yet. Why? Because “President” Donald has taught his fellow citizens that it’s OK to give voice to their darkest thoughts, when previously they would have kept them to themselves. So hatred, contempt and xenophobia might well be the order of the day.
Better to spew insults for a weekend at the Brits, Spaniards, Germans and Belgians in their immaculate golf shoes than spend the time cursing Mexicans, and heaping ridicule over stupid tax-payers, fat beauty contest entrants and Crooked Hillary. We need a break from that stuff.
But who knows? This year’s competition might be the last. In two years’ time the European team will no longer be able to gather beneath the European Union flag – at least not with its British contingent. And maybe, if they lose yet again, the Americans will invite the Canadians, Mexicans and South Americans to help them out next time, only to be countermanded by The Great Wall Builder.
So we should enjoy the Ryder Cup while we can. And my dear American friends, pay no attention to that beastly P J Willett. Rest assured: we’re just as ugly as you are.