It all started with Bryson DeChambeau’s much-publicised beef with Brooks Koepka. Now it’s escalated to the point where the PGA TOUR has been forced to make a ruling on fans using ‘Brooksy’ as a taunt to DeChambeau (pictured top of page) in a way they say brings the game into disrepute.
The rivalry between the two players has been going on for over two years. Whether you believe it’s genuine or a publicity stunt, it’s led to some undignified name-calling on both sides. It started off with some barbed comments about slow play on the 2019 Saudi International, and criticism of DeChambeau’s pace reached a crescendo at the 2019 Northern Trust, when videos of his lengthy pre-shot routine made the rounds on social media.
Tournament broadcasters joined a chorus of voices expressing their frustration, and fellow Tour pro Eddie Pepperell called DeChambeau out on Twitter. The tension culminated when fans of Koepka started heckling DeChambeau by calling him “Brooksy.” It wasn’t just an isolated incident – the heckling has gone on all summer, beginning at the Memorial and reaching a peak at the Open when DeChambeau had a tense exchange with a heckling fan.
Now the PGA TOUR itself has stepped in, with PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan meeting with the media to address the issue.
Monahan said: “Before I open it up to questions, I just wanted to take a minute to address a topic that’s been top of mind lately for our players, fans, and of course, for those of you in the media. I’m talking about fan behavior and the interaction with our athletes, when that behavior crosses the line and what we should all be doing to address it when it does.” Although DeChambeau wan’t named in these opening remarks, it became clear who he was referring to.
Monahan’s unusual theory is that the frustrations caused by Covid-19 lockdowns have led to some fans bringing unwelcome extra energy to the tournaments.
“Golf is not immune from unfortunate and disruptive behavior, although I would say that we do have the very best fans in the world. This is about just a few bad actors,” Monahan said.
In fact, Monahan is being generous in his assessment of the majority of fans, because this behaviour has in fact become relentless, following DeChambeau from tee to green. It’s the cumulative effect of the heckling that Monahan says he’s worried about, and he seems quite willing to have hecklers kicked off the course. And apparently he has the authority to do it under the fans’ code of conduct.
“We have to be intentional about our expectations for fan behavior and I believe our fan code of conduct does that,” he said. “By coming to a PGA TOUR event, you’re expected to contribute to a welcoming and safe environment by refraining from and reporting any unsafe, disruptive, or harassing behavior.
“Comments or gestures that undermine the inclusive and welcoming nature of the game will not be tolerated, nor will any harassment of players, caddies, volunteers, officials, staff, or other spectators. Fans who breach our code of conduct are subject to expulsion from the tournament and loss of their credential or ticket.”