Pro golfers hate on Chambers Bay

Now I know why Obama likes golf so much: golfers are prone to whine amidst challenging conditions outside their comfort zone.  Like a bad artisan who blames his tools, they are inclined to shun personal responsibility and loathe to concede their own inadequacies.  

The U.S. Open golf championship was just played at Chambers Bay, a public course carved out of an old gravel mine aside the Puget Sound south of Tacoma, WA.  It’s a unique course with considerable elevation changes, schizophrenic holes that switch between par 5 and 4, and some notorious greens that highly ranked Swedish player Henrik Stenson said are like “putting on broccoli.”

World number-one Rory McIlroy disagreed, saying, “I think they are more like cauliflower.”

I appreciate the honesty of players who directly answer questions, and I understand the frustration of those in the heat of battle, like Jordan Spieth, who exclaimed on the 18th fairway, “This is the dumbest hole I’ve ever played in my life.”  But what is particularly vexing are the malcontents stewing in their luxury hotel rooms who propagate their discontent to the trolls on social media.  On Twitter, Sergio Garcia trashed the greens, Ian Poulter described the course as a farce, and Ryan Palmer said, “It’s not a championship golf course.” 

Chambers Bay is just up the hill and around the bend from me.  I’ve never played the course, because it would take me all day – just for the front 9.  But I visit often, because it’s surrounded by magnificent public trails, with eagles soaring overhead, a colony of sea lions by the pier, a nearby dog park, and a bridge to the beach with stunning views of the Olympics.

Naturally, I take umbrage when pampered golfers start dissing our local course, a beautiful environment that emerged from an ugly old mining site.

Is it just Chambers they don’t like?  Hardly – turns out that golfers are rather persnickety about their venues.  It seems that unless the fairways are perfectly flat and plenty wide, hazards are sparse, the “rough” short and predictable, and the greens as smooth as a pool table, they’ll remonstrate about the unfairness they suffer.  

Cog Hill, Doral, Dover Mountain, Coyote Springs, Liberty National, and other courses have all been disparaged by humiliated golfers.  Spaniard Sergio Garcia even had the nerve to criticize one of the magnificent cathedrals of golf: Augusta National, a very highly ranked golf course that hosts the marvelous Masters, one of golf’s major championships.  

No matter how challenging the course upon which they ply their leisurely trade, golfers should be singing, not complaining as they collect hefty checks just for making the weekend cut.  They should gratefully enjoy their broccoli and cauliflower, for many will then be healthy enough to enter the senior’s Champions Tour at age 50.  That’s well beyond the retirement age for most sports.

Part of golf’s mystique is that each course is unique, with quirky layouts and devious obstacles that require imagination to navigate.  Golf as it was meant to be played, complete with bumps, blistered fairways, bunkers, and yes, some broccoli-like putting greens.  Weather conditions may change as tee times vary, but everyone essentially plays the same course! 

Professional golfers are richly rewarded for skillfully swinging golf clubs at little dimpled balls.  Indeed, they are well represented in various lists that show the top paid “athletes.”  This survey shows that of the top 20 richest athletes in the world in 2015 six – six – are golfers.  So why don’t they get a grip on reality and cheer up?

Instead of perpetuating discontent in the nether regions of cyberspace, the pros who were humiliated by Chambers Bay should visit American Lake Veterans’ Golf Course only a few miles southeast in Lakewood.  They’ll be well and truly humbled, and experience a cathartic sense of perspective courtesy of heroic vets whose physical and mental challenges could justify some legitimate complaints.  Instead, these wounded warriors are just happy to be able to pick up a club and enjoy the thrills of golf.

Now stop whining, you rich golfers.  It’s unbecoming for participants in a genteel sport with such minor physical demands that even seniors can collect generous prize money.

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