Growing up, I was taught that Golf is a gentleman’s game, meaning that it is a game where the players are expected to call rules violations on themselves, and where sportsmanship is the rule, not the exception. Golfers are taught etiquette and proper on-course behavior. While some people certainly don’t always adhere to it, the majority of people who play and respect the game of golf carry on this tradition to others and set the standard for the next generation to play the game.
More and more these days when I turn on Sportscenter I see events in other sports of brutal violence and disrespect. You see fights in Basketball games, people being pushed head first into the boards in Hockey, batters being hit intentionally by 90MPH fastballs and Football players deliberately going for the knees of opposing players. While golf isn’t a contact sport and many people think watching golf on TV is boring, we seldom see any acts that disrespect the game or the players.
Before Tiger’s private life was made public last year, we watched him throw his driver into the crowd in Australia, and before that there were many other incidents of poor behavior on the course. Tiger has since stated that he plans to change and he promised to behave better on the course going forward. I have long thought that one’s behavior on the golf course mirrors that of life. Playing golf with someone can allow you a rare glimpse into someone’s mind. How a person deals with adversity, self-doubt and even success can tell you a lot about them. This is perhaps why so many business deals are made and broken on the golf course!
Every now and then there is a moment in golf that reveals the true character of a player. This weekend Brian Davis showed us all what the game is about. Having just drained a long putt on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff with Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage, Davis found his ball in the hazard left of the 18th green on the first playoff hole. Electing to play from the hazard, he noticed that his club may have brushed against some vegetation during his backswing, so he called over PGA Tour rules official Slugger White to confirm on the TV replay. The replay showed that he did indeed brush something on his backswing, which is a two stroke penalty, and immediately ended his hopes of winning his first PGA Tour tournament.
“It was one of those things I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye,” Davis said. “And I thought we’d check on TV, and indeed there was movement.” Sometimes the rules of golf seem unfair and harsh, and perhaps this is one of those times. On television we couldn’t tell anything wrong had happened. Only upon review in slow motion was the infraction noticeable. “To have the tournament come down that way is definitely not the way I wanted to win,” Furyk said. “It’s obviously a tough loss for him and I respect and admire what he did.” Calling the rules violation on himself cost Davis almost $400,000, but he gained the respect of many.
The Public Relations department at Cleveland Golf/Srixon was flooded on Monday by emails from fans applauding Brian Davis’ actions. Both Davis and Furyk are part of Cleveland Golf/Srixon’s PGA tour staff. Below are just a few of the many messages regarding the events at Harbor Town Golf Links.
Dear Mr. Davis,
I am a 38 year old single father of a 15 year old son and have just starting playing golf 3 weeks ago. I wanted to write you and let you know that I was watching my second golf tournament (The Verizon Heritage) today with my son and your performance in sudden death compelled me to write you. I have never seen such honor and sportsmanship from any player in any sport. It was wonderful to be able to have my son see how a true man and sportsman acts during competition when most of what the media shows us is other more well known golfers acting poorly. I have become a very huge fan and will not only be following you and your future endeavors but am going to be supporting your sponsors exclusively. Thanks again for the motivation you have given me to continue to play golf and also the opportunity to educate my son on how to display honor and sportsmanship.
Good luck in your future tournaments,
Congratulations on your outstanding performance at the Verizon
Heritage tournament this weekend. We are dreadfully sorry you did not
win, especially under the circumstances, but want you to know how much
we admire and respect you for your honesty. You are a giant, Brian, a
great role model and you should stand tall and be very proud of
yourself. Well done! You are truly the champion of the day and we
sincerely hope that you know that is how you are seen!
In the words of the great Sir Edmund Hillary: “It is not the
mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Today, Brian, you conquered in
spectacular fashion! Kudos to you!!!
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Dear Mr. Davis,
My husband and I were watching golf today like we do on most Sunday afternoons. Before we started our family four years ago, we loved to play golf together. While watching, I’m not much for just sitting there, I’m usually doing chores around the house or playing with our two children. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t seen much of you before on television, I’m sure only because I wasn’t playing close attention :0). I know that golfers pride themselves on honesty, but what I saw today with you calling that penalty on yourself was probably one of the greatest examples of integrity that I have EVER seen! We will never know but probably nobody would have even noticed that infraction and you could have won that tournament. You are truly a wonderful role model and I will mention you to my children when I am looking for modern day people who have been courageous. I think we can both agree that we need more people like that for our children. You have a beautiful family and I’m praying for their good health. Thank you Mr. Davis for what you did today!
Blessings to you!!
Pleasanton, Texas, USA
I wanted to commend you on the CHARACTER you showed at the Heritage Classic. With all the news surrounding the golf world over the last several months, it was a breath of fresh air. I know losing was disappointing but all the wins in the world doesn’t make up for character and honoring one’s self, family, friends and the game of golf. Congratulations on your top finish. I wish you well moving forward.
We too want to congratulate Brian Davis and Jim Furyk for a great week. Furyk earns his second victory of the year, and Davis earns a big check, respect, many new fans and made his sponsors proud.
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