The second major of the year is in the bag. On a blustery day in New York, Brooks Koepka was able to hold on to the lead he built to take home his second PGA Championship title. Dustin Johnson tried to make a charge as Koepka faltered, but ultimately fell short with bogeys on 16 and 17. Out of the past 8 majors, this is the 4th Brooks has won, vaulting him right to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Besides Brooks asserting his dominance over the game, the biggest story last weekend took place outside the ropes. The gallery at Bethpage Black was to say the least… animated.
The crowds were louder before and during golfers hitting their shots last weekend than any tournament we can remember. Maybe having someone 7 shots ahead made them feel like the tournament was already over and led to a lack of caring about the other golfers. But then again, when Koepka made 4 consecutive bogeys they were yelling at him to choke! Maybe it’s just a product of the location. It’s no national secret that New Yorkers care deeply about their teams. They let those teams and individuals know that, good or bad. Either way, it was nothing if not entertaining to watch.
We did however notice one thing that felt pretty disrespectful. On the 17th hole the crowd erupted at the top of Dustin Johnson’s backswing, perhaps leading him to hit a poor shot. The result of the hole was a bogey, and Brooks’ lead went from 1 to 2. We’re all for people having fun and having a few, but all golfers would agree that there’s certainly something distracting about an interruption of noise in your backswing. If we’re going to have noise, there should be noise the whole time. It should not be an attempt to get everyone quiet only to have them explode again.
Perhaps the most important person to weigh in was the man who won. When asked about the crowds heckling him for messing up, he said “I think I kind of deserved it. You’re going to rattle off four in a row and it looks like you’re going to lose it; I’ve been to sporting events in New York. I know how it goes.” It seems like Brooks knew this was coming and his answer could not have been more professional. But are we to assume he’s telling the truth? Maybe he just doesn’t want to whine to the public.
Does all this mean we need to designate some tournaments as being pro-noise? The Waste Management Phoenix Open already seems to be that way. And interestingly, the comments by the pros about Bethpage were mostly all in support of the raucous crowds. Maybe the PGA Championship will be designated as the “loud major”. Think about how many of us common golfers play with music on now! It definitely feels like the days of quiet on the course are fading away. Was Happy Gilmore foreshadowing the evolution of PGA Tour golf? Perhaps. The one thing we do know, is that the Ryder Cup is at Bethpage in 2024… and it’s going to be LOUD.
What are your thoughts on the crowd situation at this year’s PGA Championship? We’d love to hear multiple points of view, so comment below or reach out to us on social media @froggergolf. Thanks for reading!