Media and Pro Golfers Growing Farther Apart

Article excerpt

You knew it would come to this. It was as inevitable as a Tom

Watson three-jack, as inescapable as a John Daly hangover, as

inexorable as Craig Stadler's frantic midnight searches for the

hidden Girl Scout cookies.

Why did we ever think golf would be any different? What fools

we were to believe golfers were somehow immune to the

debilitating disease that afflicts all other major-league sports

. . . Mega-Media-Phobia: A fear and loathing of middle-aged men

carrying note pads and wearing rayon golf shirts that say "Ocala

Jai-Alai Celebrity Challenge."

Of course, we shouldn't be at all shocked with the undercurrent

of suspicion rippling through the PGA Tour and pitting golfers

against those who report on them. Really, all that should

astound us is this: What took so long?

In pro football, basketball and baseball, the relationship

between athletes and reporters has disintegrated to a point

where it's tolerable at best, volatile at worst. Just this week,

New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari referred to one

Hispanic-American reporter as a "Mexican idiot." Which

presumably is different from being a normal, run-of-the-mill

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Idiot.

Golf, though, was always different. It was the last bastion of

common courtesy and chumminess between players and media. It was

a gentleman's game -- and that's how it was covered. . . . Mr.

Palmer, sir, I'd like you to meet the Tribune's new golf writer,

H.R. Puff 'N' Fluff.

But as we approach tee time for the 24th Players Championship,

there are some golfers on the verge of media mutiny. The

acrimony has intensified in the wake of a controversial Tiger

Woods article in the latest issue of Gentleman's Quarterly.

There is a feeling among many golfers that the writer

overstepped ethical boundaries by printing some off-color jokes

Woods felt should have been off the record.

Of course, one wonders why Woods, who is black, would

tastelessly lampoon African-American stereotypes. Unless, of

course, it was the one-quarter Thai in him telling the jokes. Or

do we now have proof of what really happened to Sherman

Hemsley's long, lost son? Check young Tiger's birth certificate

and see if he's not really George Jefferson Jr.

It has reached a point where golfers, as they did at a players

meeting last night, are seriously discussing whether reporters

should be banned from PGA Tour locker rooms. …