Henry A. Lister
Carolina Golf Association Rater
Politics has entered the world of sport whether we like it or not. This is not to say this is new. Most Presidents played golf but rarely was the mix so volatile. Now a President not only plays golf, perhaps excessively, but OWNS golf courses in many countries. He has an uneasy relationship with the Scottish people who held a failed campaign to ban him from the country. Now “45” tests the tolerance of NFL fans and the rest of us who witness tweet storms over the exercise of free speech.
We should not regard this as a partisan issue nor should we expect to see the same expression of political persuasion take place at golf tournaments. It should come as no surprise that most golf owners, professional golfers and golfers in general are cut from a more conservative cloth.
In most instances golf is dependent on corporations—from agricultural giants to equipment manufacturers to apparel companies. Golf is an expensive sport relative to others such as cross country running or even tennis. So it should be expected that golfers and golf industrialists are Republican. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
A golf course is a living organism. Soil shifts, trees die and others sprout and grass mutates. Because it is a living organism, golf course owners and those who maintain them tend to be strong environmentalists. Golf as a sport depends on a healthy environment for growing grass, trees and bushes that exist in clean water and air systems.
Most golf course owners are avid environmentalists and know more about local wildlife and water quality than 90 percent of the rest of the community. These are not heartless corporations raping the land for personal gain. In fact, most owners I know make decisions based on the use of the land and how it will be sustained for 20 to 50 years.
While conservative political thinking may be common among golfers the game is not without heart. Philanthropy is strong in golf. Charities benefit greatly from golf tournaments, both local and national. Since 1938, local charities have benefitted when a PGA event is played in a city.
In 2014 the total charitable giving through PGA tournaments exceeded $2 billion, with over $170 million donated in 2016. Most top 100 golfers have charitable foundations through which they distribute their own money. Local charitable organizations hold tournaments at area golf courses, often at private clubs which allow non-members to play a course they normally can’t access.
Three topics that should not be discussed in polite company are religion, politics and money. Personally, I don’t mind discussing any of those topics but in general it is good practice. People should be allowed to practice and express their beliefs about each within the confines of their own conscience without fear of scorn or retribution. And no one should be required to display their beliefs, patriotism or loyalty in public.
If it were up to me, the national anthem would never be played at a sporting event, whether it’s baseball, hockey or the Olympics. Nor should any athlete be required to pledge allegiance prior to a sporting event. Let’s save pledges for political rallies, prayers for religious ceremonies and money talk for the end of the round when the bets are paid off.
Hobbit Golfer 2017 index: 62 rounds. Average score 82, CGA handicap = 7.0 “To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.” —P.G. Wodehouse