Tiger sees red in Shanghai

The behaviour of some Chinese sports fans was again brought under the spotlight during the Champions Golf Tournament in Shanghai last week. As the Chinese government has noticed before, with a particular eye on the 2008 Olympics, Chinese sports fans, and in the case of golf, even the TV cameramen, are fairly new to the etiquette involved when watching sport. As golf is more phychological than physical, it doesn’t, therefore, lend itself too well to China’s ubiquitous ‘anything-goes’ mobile phone culture. Tiger Woods is particularly unforgiving when it comes to noise and other distractions on the golf course:

“A lot of people had mobile phones and were taking pictures, you just had to deal with it” the No. 1-ranked golfer said, where he repeatedly pulled away from playing shots because of noise. “There were a lot of distractions out there.”

“It was a bit more chaotic than I thought it would be” Englishman Howell said afterwards. “There were more phones and lots of cameras. It was fairly bad and took me by surprise.”

It was unfortunate that the constant chattering and clicking of the crowd even made it into all the news bulletins I watched on TV. Each report I saw, started by mentioning the noise and the complaints of the players. However, It wasn’t as if the organisers ignored the danger, but in true Mainland-style, the signs and even instruction booklets were thoroughly ignored:

Signs at the entrances to the Sheshan International Golf Club were optimistic: “Strictly no mobile phones and cameras.” Spectators, many walking past the signs with phone planted to ear, even got written instructions on how to behave from organizers. The “Guide to Viewing Golf” – a card given to fans in both Chinese and English – included instructions such as “do not applaud or cheer a mistake” and “remain quiet when the players are about to hit the ball.”

However, taking pictures and chattering on the phone weren’t the only
peccadillos on offer. In one case, a woman spectator picked up a golf ball that was still in play on the fairway on the 4th hole. Also, ‘at the Volkswagen Masters in Beijing in September, Michael Campbell went to find his ball only for a cameraman to hand it to the U.S. Open champion.’ Other amusing incidents on the Asian tour include stewards having to remove children from making sandcastles in bunkers and sprinting down down the fairways at certain events.

Chinese journalists have, quite rightly, pointed out that China has had a maximum of five years experience of professional golf and that golf course stewards have been negligent in carrying out their proper duties. True enough. I suppose that after the fiasco at the Ryder Cup in 1999 which saw the wives of many U.S. players mincing around the 17th green in their high heels before the match had even finished, the Chinese are not the only ones who could learn a thing or two about golf etiquette.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

We should be thankful that none of the kids relieved themselves on the course or took a dump in a bumker. If only HK Disney could say as much.

November 15, 2005 @ 4:56 am | Comment

Frankly, I’m in favor of disruptive behavior at golf tournaments. As someone who finds the very idea of golf stultifying (and yes, I have played), I would like to see this go even further. Some of my recommendations for improved golf spectating:

1) Nude galleries.
2) Random landmines on fairways.
3) “Elephant golf”
4) Spectators allowed to throw firecrackers during swings.
5) Players allowed to beat spectators with clubs, if they can catch them.
6) Beer kegs at every green.
7) Live from the seventh fairway, Soundgarden!
8) Death penalty for bogeys.
9) Slap-a-caddy day.
10) Free megaphones and air-horns for everyone.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

What gives? You can’t step foot onto a US PGA tour event with a cell phone. They usually have set up well organized cell-phone check-in stands. And they have signs that clearly state that violators who use the phones on the course will be tossed out.

While full-contact golf, air-horns and on-course heckling would be fun to watch, there is something to be said for letting golfers focus on their game.

November 16, 2005 @ 1:49 pm | Comment

That’s right. A couple of similar articles I read recommended that China should get serious about this problem by taking hard line and doing what America does which is to physically eject mobile phone users/hecklers etc from golf courses.

I’m not sure how successful it would be to seperate your average Mainlander from their beloved mobile phone. They’d probably break out in a rash or something.

They could try those mobile ohone jammers that they use in London theatres. As soon as people walk in they lose their mobile phone signal. Cool. I’ve always wanted one of those mobile jammers for China. It would be great fun.

November 17, 2005 @ 2:15 am | Comment

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