ONE OF THE MORE unfortunate things about the Ryder Cup is not the USA’s seeming inability to produce a winning side these days but the degeneration of the gallery into something approaching the hysteria of a football crowd.
Applause at many major events these days can no longer be spontaneous it seems, but co-ordinated either by some manic announcer bawling the name of the goal, run or points scorer or else accompanied by primitive music that endeavours to bring out the latent caveman in us all. Cheering a try for England at Twickenham is now supported by deafening music from the rightly, little known combination of Elias and his Zig Zag jive flutes. And does it enhance our enjoyment? Very little would be the most popular response from those with an IQ into double figures.
Sadly, at the Ryder Cup, things have reached a nadir when it comes to cornering the market in mindless, bellowed one-liners, of which ‘Geddindahole’ when the ball is going nowhere near ‘da hole’ is possibly the most annoying and now seems to have been embraced by the more feeble minded of European supporters. But for the leader in the clubhouse in sheer idiocy we must blame the Americans or rather one American in particular.
It all started on December 4th, 2011 at Sherwood Country Club during the Chevron World Challenge. Tiger Woods was about to end a winless sequence that had lasted for more than two years. As spectators craned their necks on the 18th and Woods smashed his drive there came a deep guttural roar from one member of the gallery, ‘Mashed Potatoes!’
Inane it most certainly was, but loud enough for the commentary team to remark on. Sadly, instead of asking why that lunatic had not seen the last of his golf for the day, they chuckled. Within moments Tiger’s drive and the accompanying ‘mashed potatoes’ cry had gone viral on Youtube. But what was it that inspired this idiotic roar that has sadly been imitated on far too many golf courses and is now a regular at Ryder Cups?
For this, we have Andrew Widmar, resident of El Paso in Texas and a student at a nearby Southern Californian college to thank. That morning in a telephone call to his mother Widmar had been asked what he would be wearing as she was keen to look out for him in the gallery as she watched the tournament on TV. It was then that he announced that he would indicate his presence by shouting loudly about a popular way to serve a root vegetable.
What makes this even sadder is not that Widmar’s refrain has been seized on, presumably by those golf fans whose knuckles still graze the ground as they walk, but that, at the time, he was a member of Pepperdine University’s golf team and has competed twice in the US Amateur Championship. And he thought this was a cool way to behave.
Widmar later said, ‘My friends thought it was stupid but I thought it was hilarious,’ which gives us some idea of his cutting edge sense of humour. He added, ‘It’s a good one to yell because it’s nice and quick and means absolutely nothing.’
This makes the interminable ‘USA, USA’ chant seem positively highbrow but at least now we all know where it came from. If only it would simply go back there; now and forever.