Based on in-depth demographic research, I’ve determined that New South Essays readers may not know that this week is the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga. As a public service, I am writing to let you know that this is happening , and it is important.
Or at least it is to some people. Like CBS. And Augusta, Ga. And Tiger Woods.
As I scoured the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) headlines for some New South nugget to pull from the array of staid and stodgy story lines, I found and discarded the story of the 14-year-old Chinese phenom, Tianlang Guan. No New South angles there.
Then there’s Tiger. Trying to win a fifth Green Jacket (that’s what they give the winners. Not very practical. They can only wear it at Augusta National Country Club) might be interesting to some folks, but in the New South, it’s about as exciting as watching Alabama play Georgia State in football. Oh, and there’s a lot of hullabaloo about Woods breaking some arcane rule and needing to disqualify himself, but that will never happen.
Then, I found this: the latest trend among pro golfers is called “Dufnering.” Named for 36-year-old Jason Dufner, an Auburn grad currently tied for 7th at the Master’s, who had his picture taken by journalists while sitting awkwardly in a school classroom back on March 28.
The photo quickly went viral, and soon, Dufner’s golfing buddies proliferated the image through Twitter and named the pose “Dufnering.”
It doesn’t appear to be hurting his game.
Then there’s Bubba Watson, the 2012 Master’s champion. Much was made of his victory last year, and the 34-year-old Bagdad, Fla., native and University of Georgia graduate has quickly become one of the bright stars of the golf world with his buttoned-up golf shirts and pink drivers.
He and his buddies have taken to making music videos. Yes, you heard me correctly: music videos. Perhaps you’ve seen the 2011 rendition of “Oh, Oh, Oh”? Watson and fellow golfers Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan followed up that effort with “2.Oh,” another in their series of madcap musical mayhem.
An argument can be made that Watson’s musical exploits could be interfering with his game as he currently sits at four-over-par, 10 shots off the lead.
In the Old South, golf was a genteel game practiced by wealthy gentlemen. In the New South, it’s a bunch of rambunctious frat boys seemingly taking it all in stride and having fun. Not since John Daly — the chain-smoking, long-driving, overweight, alcoholic everyman — was competitive have Southerners had someone they felt they could truly root for in a tournament.
Yes, I know, lots of golfers hail from the South. You’ll even see such stalwarts as Davis Love III gracing the cover of Garden & Gun magazine. But will you ever see Davis Love III “Dufnering” or performing in a rap video?
Sometime in the last 10 years, golf… or I should say golfers… stopped taking themselves so seriously. Whether this makes golf more accessible to the public and ultimately more popular remains to be seen. What I think you can predict is that whether people watch the tournaments or not, they’ll feel a stronger kinship with the athletes, and that has to be a boon to the sport.
OK, let’s all assume the position and do some “Dufnering” while we watch the final two rounds of the Master’s. It’s a tradition unlike any other.
Who’s your favorite PGA star? Do you think it disgraces golf for players to be dancing around in overalls and sitting awkwardly in school classrooms? Leave a comment below and share your reaction to the current crop of crazy Southern golfers.