Today is a big day for Minnesota golf. Let’s hope nobody yells “Mashed Potatoes” during the press conference.
Tournament whisperer Hollis Cavner has announced that the TPC Twin Cities will host a PGA Tour event beginning next summer. Minnesota hasn’t held a regular PGA tourney since 1969.
Golf has changed dramatically since then. The players are more powerful, the golf ball is filled with helium and many more fans deserve to be tased.
Cavner has done remarkable work with golf in Minnesota. He got blue-chip players to fly to Blaine for the Champions Tour 3M Championship. He, along with the braintrust at Hazeltine National and everyone else involved in Minnesota’s only Ryder Cup, has proved that our state deserves a tour event.
We also deserve better than what we witnessed at this week’s U.S. Open — the tournament I like to call “Golf’s Fifth Major.”
For some reason, the United States Golf Association reverted to the form that made it infamous by setting up Shinnecock Hills to play like bocce ball on an asphalt parking lot on Saturday.
Two other entities embarrassed themselves this weekend: Golf fans, and Phil Mickelson.
Cover enough majors, and you’ll hear dozens of stories about the way Mickelson behaves, and thinks. His running to swat at his ball when it was about to trickle down a hill on the 13th green Saturday bolsters a belief among many around the game that you would be unwise to trust Mickelson with your ATM card.
Instead of debating the fine print of golf’s sometimes-inscrutable rules, let’s get real: No golfer of Mickelson’s caliber has ever so blatantly defied the spirit of the game. Don’t like where your putt is rolling, so you smack it back toward the hole? There is no defense for that, if you care about golf.
What’s become interesting about the game in recent years is that golf is attracting fans who don’t seem to care about the game so much as the opportunity to wander around in a beautiful space, screaming inanities while getting drunk.
I’m not exactly a golf prude. I’ve played once this year, in the Randy Shaver Golf Classic. My group played music from a cart and recycled a few aluminum cans.
But we weren’t playing in the U.S. Open, and we didn’t scream “Dilly Dilly” during anyone’s backswing.
Here’s hoping that Cavner, who has proved he knows how to run a tournament, finds a sweet spot for the new event at TPC. A spot somewhere between USGA priggishness and modern-fan vulgarity.
I’ve covered the Masters, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The Masters remains the best in so many ways, in part because Augusta National management doesn’t tolerate idiocy. If you watch the Masters in person, you can be assured that no one near you will scream insults or vomit on your shoes.
Golf has many problems. It remains too exclusive, expensive, difficult and time-consuming. But too principled, too polite? These are not negatives. These are defining assets.
At the Hazeltine Ryder Cup, Minnesotans distinguished themselves as passionate, knowledgeable and capable of crossing the line between cheering and taunting. Someone called Rory McIlroy a disgusting name, to his face.
After one of his last swings on Sunday, Tony Finau heard a “fan” scream, “How’s your ankle?”
At the Masters this year, Finau dislocated his ankle on Wednesday, yet played in the tournament anyway. The taunt was rude and stupid.
Golf should be better than that.
Let’s hope the Minnesota tour stop will be.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MNSPN.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org