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Ruining Our Reputation

ONE OF THE HALLMARKS of our wonderful game of golf is etiquette. The ethos of respecting your fellow players, policing yourself and doing what you can to ensure that everyone, not just you, has a wonderful round on the course traces back to the origins of the game. This was in my mind when I took my two grandsons (Preston, 11; Lawson, 7) out for nine holes of golf. They are both super guys, but they are the original “one’s going to be a lawyer and one’s going to need a lawyer.” I won’t tell you which is which. As we got to the first tee, I decided that I had nothing to offer on golf skills given my pathetic game. I’m OK with being outdriven by 25 year olds, but being five yards behind an 11-year-old is not an exhilarating experience. That said, I could still offer some guidance on etiquette. To my surprise and delight, the boys picked up on rules for proper behavior on the golf course quickly and enthusiastically (although they were especially enthused about pointing out etiquette infractions of their brother).

As I watched Preston and Lawson learn points about appropriate behavior on the golf course, I thought about how well we all behave on the course as golfers in our expansive GAP region. I have had periodic nightmares of how the transcendent brawls in the 700 section at Veterans
Stadium would translate onto the golf course, and I arrived at a surprising conclusion – we GAP golfers are not just civilized, but we really are, by and large, classy. Sure we could be better on pace of play, attention to ball marks etc., but I think we’re as good as any and better than
most. When you’re a member at a wonderful course like Berwick in Northeast Pennsylvania and do your own grounds keeping, you can be sure that people pay attention to the care of the course. But proper golf conduct on the course is an ongoing responsibility for all of us requiring continuing education, gentle reminders and vigilance.

It’s also not surprising that we feature unsung heroes in this issue. They are wonderful examples of how classy behavior translates into fabulous experiences for everyone with whom these “below the radar” heroes engage at their clubs.

This attention to etiquette is not simply reserved to players. It goes right to the heart of our clubs and the broader GAP community. No better example exists than Aronimink and the BMW Championship. Aronimink is a club of global prestige whose aura will only grow brighter
in future years as it hosts women’s and men’s major championships. Is Aronimink snooty and arrogant? Not in the least! It is a great golf club with wonderful members who respect all people who love golf and treat golfers and golf enthusiasts with cordiality and warmth. This was abundantly evident at the BMW Championship.


Our region hosted a fantastic BMW Championship weeks ago. The GAP-area fans braved blistering heat and humidity, rain and mud and a weather delay pushing the final round to Monday. Despite all of this, they turned out in droves. Vince Pellegrino, Director of Championships
for the Western Golf Association, told me he was stunned at how many people made it to Aronimink to watch a spectacular final round in gray drizzle on that Monday. Our folks were enthusiastic and energetic. When GAP member and local favorite Justin Rose (Merion Golf Club) moved into a playoff with eventual winner Keegan Bradley, the gallery cheered both golfers loudly. The behavior of our local golf fans was a tribute to our region. I’m not sure whether this superb crowd performance came from the influence of our wonderful Pennsylvania Quaker heritage or the inherent respect for the game by all GAP lovers of the game. I tend to think it traces back to the fundamental ethos of golf itself and the unequaled reverence for golf in our region. In any case, it’s not doing a lot to support our reputation as the nastiest crowds in sports!