Jewish World Review June 2, 2003 / 2 Sivan, 5763
A lot of middle-aged white guys are teed off because Annika
Sorenstam got to play golf in a recent PGA event. At first, I couldn't
figure out the angst. Surely, Annika is nicer to look at than most of these
golf guys who often dress in green pants and yellow shirts. Are there no
mirrors in the clubhouses?
I mean, here's a trim young woman walking around smiling and
hitting the ball. So what's wrong with that? Well, there's plenty wrong with
it, as I found out.
Based upon dozens of conversations with male golfers who take
their hobby very seriously, I can now report that Annika's foray into the
world of men's golf was looked upon as an intrusion into the very essence of
maledom. The guys sense a threat to their fairway hegemony, and they don't
like it one bit. Let's take it step by step.
Golf is boring; there's no question about it. You just whack a
little ball and drive the cart and whack the ball and drive the cart ... I'm
sure you get the picture. But while driving and whacking, guys talk. And
what they say is not meant for women to hear. The entire golf dynamic in the
USA is built around guys yakking amongst themselves, much like the ladies'
lunch deal. And trust me, most American women do not want guys at their
lunch table, even if they do happen to be Swedish.
So it really wasn't about Annika's golf game; it was about
Annika being on the course at all. Once the dam breaks, many guys feel that
women will swarm the tees, and all macho camaraderie will cease. The golf
course is a refuge for the beleaguered American man who has to behave at
home, at work and most other places. Out on the fairway he can curse and
tell dirty jokes. He can scratch and snort and scream, and then drink what
he wants in the clubhouse bar. He gets out of the house for five hours, and
nobody's giving him directions in the golf cart.
So Annika Sorenstam ran into a male cultural buzzsaw that I
believe she's clueless about. In Sweden, it's too cold to play golf most of
the year. But here in the USA, the golf course is a primary male sanctuary.
Even though some women have succeeded in taking up the sport, the guys
generally don't like it. You think Bill Clinton wants Hillary on the green
with him? You think George W. wants Laura in cart? WELL, THEY DON'T!
To be fair, I must tell you that I do not play golf. I did as a
kid, and I was rotten at it. I have no patience for the game, and it's
harder than it looks. Plus, I was a bachelor for many years, and there were
few ladies on the links, so why waste my time? Standing around telling
putter jokes and hearing about Big Len's monster drive held absolutely no
appeal for me.
So I cannot feel the pain of male golfers, but I am beginning to
understand it. American men today are under enormous pressure on all sides.
Playing golf with the guys is a release, a therapeutic session where boys
can be boys and get away from the demands of domestic bliss and the chaotic
workplace. In that respect golf is good. If the guy can come home refreshed
and happy, everybody around him benefits. Hey, it's better than a strip
Annika Sorenstam didn't make the cut in the tournament, and
millions of guys cheered, albeit some silently. Annika stumbled upon
something primal, emotional and crucial for many men. The boys need time
away from the girls, and the golf course is a convenient escape. It's
nothing personal, Annika, and please don't take it to heart. But the simple
truth is, some guys simply don't want you around.
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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the
Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author
of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.
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© 2001 Creators Syndicate