Home' Australian Golf Digest : August 2017 Contents PreviousPages:andrewredington/gettyimages•thisPage:augustanational/gettyimages
N a big screen inside a big tent
at Bay Hill, at the first Arnold Palmer
Invitational since the great man’s
death, MasterCard debuted its new
commercial. One topical vignette
in the ad portrayed Ian Poulter and
Graeme McDowell wading into a
crowd of excited kids holding up
pens. poulter We’re gonna sign everything.
mcdowell Arnie would. poulter Arnie
definitely would. mcdowell Yes, he would.
Damn right he would. Palmer ’s
forbearance and endurance with autograph
seekers was among the many qualities that
made him golf ’s de facto patriarch and PR
MVP. This same day they unveiled another
tribute in the plaza near the first tee, a 13-
foot statue of The King apparently hitting a
pull-hook. A metal Arnold signing programs
with perfect penmanship wouldn’t have
been as dramatic a pose, but it would have
been just as true to his legend.
Sixty steps from the sculpture of the patron
saint of autographs, a cadre of professional
signature seekers huddled by the white picket
fence bordering the putting green. There
were eight of them, each clutching a clear
plastic shopping bag stuffed with ... stuff.
How they dress is their other tell – more L.L .
Bean than J.Lindeberg – but this group of
mostly middle-age men effected at least a
muny-course look: golf shirts with the tails
out, khaki-coloured cargo shorts and sensibly
priced athletic shoes. They stood still and
silent in the cool blue morning, as patient
and motionless as birds waiting for worms.
On the other side of the fence, two dozen of
the world’s greatest golfers chipped, pitched
“What do you think of those guys with the
bags?” I asked various of the world’s greatest.
“What do you think of what Jordan said?”
A month before, at the AT&T Pebble Beach
Pro-Am, Spieth had gone to the ropes to
meet the people, especially the kids, as he
usually does after a practice round. It didn’t
go well. He was still a little steamed during
his post-round presser.
Q “I know you sign a lot of autographs,
but coming off 18 today some guys ragged on
you pretty hard for not signing ... and it got a
A “Yeah ... these guys that just have bags
of stuff to benefit from other people’s success
when they didn’t do anything themselves.
Go get a job instead of trying to make money
off of the stuff that we have been able to do.
... They frustrate us. And so I turned around
and they, one of them, dropped an f-bomb in
front of three kids, so I felt the need to turn
around and tell them that wasn’t right. And
a couple of them were saying, ‘You’re not
Tiger Woods; don’t act like you’re Tiger.’ ...
Normally I let Michael [Greller, his caddie]
get into it with them ... Scums ... It just
bothered me.” (Added Spieth later in the
week: “I shouldn’t have used that word, but
I was a bit frustrated.”)
“ Some of the players are really proud
He’d say, ‘Well, these guys have to make a
The autograph scene on tour presents a
dilemma with many confusing aspects: the
players are quite aware that willingness to
put one’s name on things over and over again
is the very definition of good-guy-ness. Arnie
would, until the cows came home: great guy.
(Ditto Phil, Rickie and, yes, Jordan.) During
their competitive years, Hogan and Woods
most often couldn’t be bothered.
But Ben and Tiger didn’t have to autograph
your program; no one has to. The tour does
not compel players to sign, nor are tour
events required to provide a place for them
to do so. A golf star can just walk on by, or
sign for kids only. When Brooks Koepka did
exactly that, and an adult collector k vetched,
“ Why not mine?” Koepka replied, “Because
I’m not making your money today.”
But the kids-only policy isn’t that simple,
for some teens and tweens are also in it
for the money and offer their signed flags
online as fast – probably faster – than any
adult. And though there are occasional
unseemly battles, such as the war by the
shore at Pebble, every ardent collector
agrees that golfers are the best of all
athletes: the most affable, the most willing
and the easiest to get to, especially when
compared to baseball players.
“Manny Ramirez,” one Orlando
We looked to Annika Sorenstam for some
clarity. She sat at a table beneath the bronze
Arnie and affixed her name to this and that.
Her policy, she says, is to sign anything –
even a competing brand of golf ball, even
before a tournament round. But only one per
customer, please: after the autograph pros
got theirs, she quietly told an assistant to
make sure they didn’t get back in the queue
for a nother.
of Jordan for standing up like that,” said
“I couldn’t agree with him more,” said
“ They can be intimidating,” said Geoff
Ogilvy. “ They tend to be pushy. It’s pretty
full-on. You see a man’s arm coming at you
from between kids. Although I didn’t mind
signing about a thousand Golf World covers
after I won the US Open.”
Henrik Stenson evinced the minority,
laissez-faire attitude about the autograph
pros: “I’m providing for them, too. So I keep
We found only one other player who agreed
with Henrik, and that was the infinitely
patient and recently deceased Palmer.
“ Someone would hand him 10 of
something, and he’d sign all 10,” says
Alastair Johnston, Palmer’s longtime agent,
with a sigh and a laugh. “I’d ask him why.
124 australiangolfdigest.com.au | august 2017
6/07/2017 11:38 am
Links Archive July 2017 September 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page