Martin Smith column: No room for football-style rowdyism in Ryder Cup

It's one big bogus bag of better balls. The Ryder Cup.
Europe's Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Andy Sullivan after the USA had won the Ryder CupEurope's Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Andy Sullivan after the USA had won the Ryder Cup
Europe's Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Andy Sullivan after the USA had won the Ryder Cup

It’s tribal, aggressive, toxic - things people love about football but pretend they don’t. But this is golf.

Professional golf is a game for individuals, not teams. Golf is a game where the type of shirt you wear or a nod from the captain can carry great significance.

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It’s rule-bound, formal and conformist. It has never attracted the mob.

Look at history. Factory lads, clerks, brickies and shop workers didn’t flock from work in their hundreds of thousands for 100 years-plus to watch or play GOLF every Saturday. They didn’t build up fanatical allegiances for golf clubs and players over generations.

Didn’t queue all night for tickets, travel hundreds of miles to watch their heroes or sing themselves hoarse in the rain for the sake of their team.

No, traditionally those lads and a growing number of lasses were at football matches while - with some exceptions in Scotland perhaps - their managers played golf with magistrates, self-made milllionaires and the odd doctor or two.

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So why are gullible golfies pretending to be football fans these last few years? We know golf is a more popular game now with a much wider demographic but it needs to get a grip.

We saw the worst of it again at the Ryder Cup where, amazingly, players still walk side by side with fans between green and tee.

How long is THAT going to last after football terrace-style abuse was bellowed at Rory McIlroy from a few feet and the Northern Irishman had the perpetrator kicked out. Quite right too.

Baying crowds and full-volume, touching-distance abuse about a player’s ex-girlfriend is unacceptable anywhere and especially at a golf tournament.

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Local lads Lee Westwood, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick had a disappointing weekend and defeat always hurts but that’s not the point. We just don’t need pack histrionics from overwrought supporters who don’t really get the team thing. Especially from Americans.

Fierce though their rivalries can be, American sport doesn’t generate the same tribal intensity that sport, especially football, is built on in Europe.

So when they try to join in with the fanatical fan thing at a golf tournament of all places, it gets out of proportion. Made-up mob hatred, bogus rivalry and abusive supporters have no place anywhere - especially on any golf course.