Rory McIlroy is sitting third headed into the final round of this weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in sunny Orlando. During his third-round 67 on Saturday, McIlroy was irritated once again by rowdy fan behavior, and he’s got an idea for a solution, per ESPN:
“There was one guy out there who kept yelling my wife’s name. I was going to go over and have a chat with him. I don’t know, I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think that they need to limit alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something because every week, it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.”
There’s currently nothing in the PGA’s list of prohibited and permitted items that explicitly allows or disallows booze—golf is the rare sport where the participants expect to perform in respectful silence, but asking spectators to not even lube that silence with delicious alcohol would almost certainly be a bridge too far. Besides, the boorish behavior McIlroy describes isn’t something athletes in other sports don’t deal with from opposing fans every road game.
On the other hand, other professional sports leagues recognize that alcohol affects fan behavior, and that drunk fans tend to behave in ways that are unpleasant both for the athletes and for other fans. Major League Baseball discontinues alcohol sales after the seventh inning; the NFL and the NBA both cut off alcohol sales after the third quarter; the NHL cuts off alcohol sales after the second period; MLS stops selling alcohol after the 75th minute. Generally these policies do not prevent shithead fans from acting like shitheads, but probably as a policy drunkenness at spectator events should be discouraged.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but it’s when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy it can get a little much,” McIlroy said. “It used to be you bring beers on the course but not liquor. And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. So I don’t know if it’s just go back to people walking around with beers in their hand, that’s fine, but I don’t know.”
It’s when McIlroy starts gesturing towards golf’s stately etiquette bullshit that my hand starts making an involuntary and reflexive sarcastic wanking motion:
“They want to try and replicate that, which is great — it’s great for the tournament, it’s great for us — but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved, and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
It’s good to have rules that help keep people from becoming drunk in public, for reasons that have nothing to do with etiquette or the sensitive ears of children. It’ll be interesting to see if the PGA moves in any direction on this.