I wondered if it was just me, but the past few weeks of watching tournaments live and on TV seemed to confirm my suspicion that women golfers are altogether more cheerful than their opposite numbers on the men’s tours. Even a missed putt can at times prompt a wry smile as opposed to a slump of the shoulders or worse.
Too many of the men look perfectly wretched as they go about their business, with the recent Cazoo Classic a case in point. Though it sounded like a jolly enough affair, it turned out to be anything but, with England’s Jordan Smith leading the way in terms of doom and gloom. The commentators, to their credit, made a good job of lifting the mood.
Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, did not mind admitting that he, too, thinks the women smile a whole lot more than the men. Meanwhile, a prominent referee summarised the situation as follows: “The men come across as entitled, the women show gratitude.”
Felicity Johnston, from the ranks of the Ladies European Tour, said: “Everyone’s saying the same, and it’s not the best news for the game. This is a time when we should be making a real effort to hang on to all the people who started playing golf when they couldn’t play anything else during the pandemic. Today, they’ll be watching golf on TV and, if they’re not finding it much fun, they’ll stop playing.”
“No-one’s going to complain about (the men) if they look miserable, but if we’re the guilty parties, we’ll hear about it soon enough."
Dame Laura Davies
Amy Olson, a smiling star from the LPGA tour, said that she long ago worked out that the women do as much good for themselves as the spectators by staying cheery. “When you start complaining about things and getting irritated it shows in your scores,” she said. “The girls who let things go are the ones who play better.
“I can understand why the men are as they are. The longer they’re out on tour, the more they are apt to keep themselves to themselves and their teams and stop interacting with people. Originally, I used to say hello to every spectator in sight and thank every volunteer. I was probably asking too much of myself, but I very soon made it a firm rule not to treat people any differently however I might be scoring.”
Brittany Lincicome had gone through much the same process. In the days when she allowed herself to get cross, the follow-up usually was a run of bogeys. On the subject of the men’s moods, she merely wondered why they wouldn’t look happy when they were playing for so much loot.
Dame Laura Davies’s thoughts were every bit as wry as you might have expected. She thought the men didn’t go around smiling because they didn’t have to.
“No-one’s going to complain about (the men) if they look miserable, but if we’re the guilty parties, we’ll hear about it soon enough,” she said.
It made sense to let Dave Cannon, the award-winning golf photographer, have his say on who makes for the more upbeat pictures.
“The women win that one by a country mile,” said Cannon. “When it comes to catching someone in the moment of victory, the men seldom let their emotions go to the same extent as the women. Just think of Ryann O’Toole’s obvious glee as she won last week’s Scottish (Open) at Dumbarnie.
“Tiger Woods was probably the worst offender,” he added. “He never gave us more than a standard smile until he won the 2019 Masters in front of his children. That was the first time he let go of his inner-killer of an image – and what a wonderful moment that was.”