GLENEAGLES, Scotland – I’m constantly amazed at golfers who seem to enjoy having large targets on their backs in team competitions, even more so when they insist on painting the targets on their backs themselves.
Danielle Kang did just that ahead of the 16th Solheim Cup. To suggest, unprompted, that Scottish fans were going to boo her at Gleneagles showed a remarkable lack of knowledge of the royal & ancient game.
Is Kang geographically challenged? The PGA Centenary Course may resemble an American parkland course, but it’s based in the heart of Scotland. Did Kang forget she was playing at the Home of Golf this week, the birthplace of the game?
Suggesting Scottish golf fans, the most knowledgeable and respectful fans on the planet, would resort to booing as if this match was taking place at Brookline is a bit like saying baseball fans would sprawl graffiti over the walls of Cooperstown.
You could almost see the hackles rising on the backs of those Scots in the media room – me included – when Kang made her comments, especially when she couldn’t identify who’d told her she was going to be booed. It took an English journalist to make Kang come to her senses.
“It pains me to say this, but Scottish crowds are usually pretty knowledgeable and respectful,” said Phil Casey, golf writer for the Press Association. “Is there any chance somebody’s probably joking with you that you’re going to get booed?”
That’s when Kang realized where she was, that she’d messed up big time.
It was no surprise when she started trying to dig herself out of the deep hole she’d dug entirely on her own.
“It was a joke,” Kang proclaimed. “Obviously, you’re not taking the joke very well.”
Er, no. There are many things in Scottish culture not worth joking about. Golf etiquette is one of them.
Cue more digging. “You’re right, Scottish men are very respectful and honorable. This is where the home of golf is, it’s where it started, so I’m excited to see what the fans are going to be like.”
But it was too late. She couldn’t have dug herself out of her own crater even with one of John Deere’s most expensive excavators.
The 26-year-old is obviously a very good golfer. As a diplomat? Put it this way, she shouldn’t count on an ambassadorial role for the U.S. government when she quits this great stick and ball game.
As that great scratch golfer, the Dalai Lama once wrote: “Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”
It would’ve been golden for Kang ahead of this Solheim Cup.