Sunday, August 10, 2008

Golf: Clearly a man's game

So it's official. I have taken up golf. I bought my own putter the other day. But my initial hesitation about all the patriarchal, classist, misogynist aspects of the game have not quite dissipated. (Not that most other sports don't have those same issues--different manifestations. After all I have played tennis since as long as I can remember.)
But I had some interesting experiences the other day. The first was more benign, a little annoying. I bought golf balls in a store and when the cashier rang them up the store code that comes up is prefaced by "men's" as in men's department. Not sport or miscellaneous. Maybe that's why I lost two of them when playing the other day. The balls, realizing they were sold to the wrong gender, simply took a dive into the water.
The more egregious of the incidents happened when I was actually playing. The foursome of men behind us called the pro shop, had the pro come out in a golf cart and ask my playing partner and I to let them play through. How rude! For several reasons. First, we had waved them through already--they didn't see us. Two, we weren't playing that slow. There were only two of us and we had a cart! And three, after they passed us, we weren't that far behind them. They saw two women; possibly two lesbians depending on how closely they looked, and they didn't want any part of us. So they called the pro and tattled basically. Grrr...I was assured that such behavior was rare, but I don't know.

By the way, several golf organizations have come together in a campaign to include golf in the summer Olympics. I am not in support of this idea. I think the sport and its athletes have plenty of opportunity for international success and recognition.
I do not think the inclusion of tennis has been all that successful. Though many players want the opportunity to play for Olympic medals, it just doesn't seem to mean as much to them. And it's because they already have four major events that hold more prestige. These are what they train for. The Olympics they just fit in, most of them, to their schedule. I see golfers existing in a similar paradigm. And there are plenty of other sports that deserve a spot more. But golf has the economic and social capital--more so then other spots--to make a persuasive pitch.


Unknown said...

Sorry about your experiences! Hope your time on the links improves (it's very gutsy to actually play golf on a course; I tend to stick to driving ranges where I don't have to have a short game).

I agree that Olympic tennis is something of a bust, but I think that has to do with an individualist mentality that is less prevalent in women's golf. Tennis also has Davis/Fed cup for national aspirations. You don't get to play on a national team in golf unless you play Solheim Cup, which is only open to the U.S. and Europe. There are lots of golfers who would be thrilled to play for their countries. It can't hurt to give it a try.

anonymous said...

Hey ken,

Let me give you the male perspective on the public golf course experience. Most men rather play fast than well. I'm not kidding here. I've seen men that refuse to work on their games or even take practice swings. I'm not really that surprised at the lengths they went to in order to get in front of you. If you think what they did was rude, wait until you want to play through four men playing slowly in front of you. Come hell or high water, they won't let you play through since it would be too big a blow to their egos.

One tip: If you want to let someone play through (and you may have done this, I don't know), is to wait at the next tee for them and then let them play through. That way, you don't have to wave at them (because they might not see).