A video gone viral of two golfers fighting over something as silly as a club championship in South Africa once again proves that golf can bring out the dark, angry side in any of us.
I know. I've experienced this dark side, firsthand. It was years ago, when I was young and dumb, that I almost came to blows on the golf course. Some details are fuzzy as the confrontation only included a few angry words. However, I still remember being very disturbed that something so innocent could escalate so quickly.
A buddy and I were playing the Leslie Park Golf Course, a hilly, tree-lined municipal course in Ann Arbor, Mich. We teed off not realizing the group in front was still rummaging for balls in the woods. When we arrived in the fairway, a pair of golfers in a cart appeared seemingly out of nowhere. They were in a confrontational mood, cussing at us for supposedly hitting into them, one of golf's original sins. If they hadn't been so rude, we probably would have apologized and everybody went on their way. But my buddy couldn't resist throwing a few choice words back. I don't remember what was said specifically and I don't believe anybody got within striking distance of a punch being thrown, although I do remember feeling afraid that something bad was about to go down. Fortunately for everybody, they drove off.
This was years before that memorable golf brouhaha broke out on the big screen in the movie Sideways (2004). Thank goodness, there was no aggressor like Miles (Paul Giamatti) or Jack (Thomas Haden Church) in either of our groups that day. It could have gotten ugly.
Fighting on a golf course used to only be the stuff of Hollywood comic relief, Happy Gilmore style.
Unfortunately, it seems to be happening more frequently now. Just a couple years ago, this video of a golf course fight in Colorado also went viral. Last fall, two best buddies, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, were reportedly involved in a near scuffle after a disastrous Ryder Cup defeat in France.
The Lake Club Benoni in South Africa issued an apology Monday on Facebook, noting that the fight "is not indicative of the fellowship" at the club. I'm guessing this sort of thing happens more than you might think at golf courses around the world. When you mix competition, booze, handicaps and the frustration of golf, that's a volatile situation waiting to explode. For the love of the game - and each other - let's hope golf can somehow stay a gentleman's game.
Have you witnessed a fight or confrontational scene on the golf course or after a round in the clubhouse? Let us know in the comments below.