Note to tour pros: Please smile

Phil Mickelson celebrates with a group of fans after winning the 2009 WGC-CA Championship.

Phil Mickelson celebrates with a group of fans after winning the 2009 WGC-CA Championship.

I feel vindicated.

Thank you, Andrew Magee, for proving me right.

I’ve penned a few columns over the years railing against the bloated sense of entitlement of many tournament professionals. I’ve spent countless hours wondering why large corporations spend large wads of cash on tournaments only for professionals to turn up with sour faces and indifferent attitudes.

Two weeks ago in Morocco, the European Tour handed out letters to players asking them to do a little bit extra to please sponsors. It’s a shame the tour has to go to this length.

Such letters wouldn’t be needed if more players realized just how lucky they are to be playing this great game for a living.

“I learned these guys whine and complain about everything,” Magee told Jeff Rude in the latest episode of “Hate To Be Rude” on this Web site.

Having embarked on a new career as a broadcaster, Magee now sees professional golf from a new angle, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

“A majority of players have taken completely for granted how great they have it. They’ve got this sense of entitlement; they’ve got this attitude. They don’t have any idea what’s going on in the real world.

“It just pisses me off that these guys have no idea how people are losing their jobs and it’s a tough economy. These guys have a chance to make a million bucks every week, and they complain and whine and throw clubs and treat people in the crowd with sneers and snarly looks. I’m just appalled by the behavior.”

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!

Magee’s right. Many tour pros have no idea how good they have it. I often get the impression most tour pros seem more intent on taking from the game than giving back.

Watching elite pros with their game faces on and zero interaction with the crowd isn’t exactly the best way to promote the game. As for those players who have the temerity to berate a fan because he or she happened to drop an umbrella or a plastic bag at the wrong time, they just don’t get it.

I’ve heard top players rant at fans because they happened to move an eyelid just at the time the precious pro was about to start his backswing. How I’ve wished the fan in those instances gave as much back as the player dished out.

Jack Nicklaus made a telling comment in Morocco recently when he said: “I don’t watch golf on TV. It’s like watching paint dry!”

I know how he feels. Watching a succession of pros take forever to play and doing nothing extra to entertain the fans is hardly appealing.

I don’t mean to paint all tour pros with the same brush. There are many who give back to the game. Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and others will gladly sign autographs for every kid waiting beside the scorer’s hut. I’ve seen the likes of Ian Poulter and Geoff Ogilvy stand and pose patiently for photos with fans after a round. I once witnessed Annika Sorenstam go to extra lengths to enhance a young girl’s experience of the Solheim Cup.

However, the bottom line is this: Every player should be going out of his or her way to give as much back to the game as possible or else those big corporations who fund their lavish lifestyles are going to take their cash and spend it elsewhere.

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