How many golf fans on social media aren’t helping the image of our game
I was lucky enough to work as a caddie at Commonwealth National Country Club in Horsham, PA during my high school and college years. It taught me a lot about the game, about hard work, and about life.
Also lucky for me, I grew up in a very diverse city and region, and our membership at this pretty pricey joint reflected the success of a wide swath of colors, creeds, and life experiences.
Commonwealth also hosted two editions of the short-lived Tylenol Kids Classic for Cystic Fibrosis, a two-day tournament consisting of 24 PGA Tour pros, a bunch of PGA course pros from around the country, and a range of invited celebrities and amateurs willing to pay good money to play.
This tournament left me with many positive experiences. Walking the course in the same group as Dr. Gil Morgan was a treat, as was learning more about everything golf for two days with a PGA teaching pro, and spending time chatting with Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon (who was a super nice guy). It also left me with some stories (John Daly comes to mind) and some very not so hot moments (no offense, MJ 23).
But one of the Tour pros who I met and was very nice to me when doing so was Kirk Triplett. Specifically, I remembered his golf bag and his name blazing big on the long front panel. Kirk was gracious in our short talk and since then I’ve been a big fan.
This past weekend was the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship. Being one of the Champions Tour’s most consistent players, Kirk arrived with his signature attire, his long time PING clubs, and something new on his bag.
Under the name KIRK TRIPLETT, his bag featured a new logo: Black Lives Matter.
How did golf fans on social media react? Many were positive, and many proved what just comes back to haunt us as a sport and perpetuates a stereotype of us being an out of touch group.
Comment after comment went deep into ripping Triplett apart: how could you support Marxists, you’re not using the brain God gave you by supporting BLM, don’t bring politics into sports, you’ve lost “me” as a fan, all lives matter, your son is American and not African-American, and so forth. All of this was hurled in an ugly tirade of online keyboard muscle flexing and truly it made me sad.
Why did Triplett put the BLM logo on his bag? Because the Tripletts have been of open hearts and minds to adoption, and their youngest adopted son, Kobe, is African-American. In fact, Kirk said in an interview with PGA Champions Tour social media about the conversations needed regarding race relations and equality, “It doesn’t just have to come from the African-American side, right? It needs to come from all sides. So, hence the sticker.”
Exactly. This is 2020. It’s 52 years since MLK fell to an assassin’s bullet. It’s been 56 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed. Brown defeated the Board of Education in 1954, and we’re 157 years since Honest Abe said enough is enough, ending slavery in the Union.
I’m not going to get into the politics of this all. And truth be told, to me racial equality is not a political thing whatsoever. The last I checked the forefathers who designed our nation said that all are created equal, so that’s the way everyone, no matter how they were made, should be treated. We’re equal and no one race, color, or creed is superior.
The National Golf Foundation said approximately 3% of all golfers in our country are African-American, and that number drops to just over 1% when it comes to competitive players. Representation by African-Americans in our sports professional teaching ranks is absolutely miniscule as well. Our sport isn’t insulated; it’s a veritable island.
I’m sure this will get me some hate mail and some middle fingers on social media and the comments section, and frankly I don’t care if it does. But this country has gotten so damn jaded and is regressing into familiar sad territories of division on everything that it’s permeated everything we watch, play, or do.
One golfer said he believes in a cause because his adopted son is black, and people attacked him like QWERTY sharks smelling blood in the internet water.
I’m ridiculously saddened and disturbed by what we’re becoming and what I’m seeing. Keyboard hate spewers don’t realize it takes a big pair of golf balls to slap that emblem on a Tour pro’s bag because they know it’s going to generate a lot of vitriol, and Kirk did it anyway.
That’s why I can also say that today, I’m an even bigger fan of Kirk Triplett.
Cover Image via Instagram
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