The Lexus Cup is back in Singapore, and finally it’s come to my club, so I no longer am a second-class member of the audience who has to arrive by shuttle, wait in line to pay for food and sweat in the sun while watching people in VIP tents sip beer in air-conditioned comfort.
This time, I was in the tent! Bwahahar. Well, actually most of the time I was following two of the teams. I arrived late to catch Natalie Gulbis, Angela Sanford (USA/Team International) versus Candie King (Taiwan) and Mayumi Shimomura (Japan). The Asian girls were doing much better.
Halfway through I decided to join a larger group of followers at another hole, because I figured they had to be following someone more famous. Sure enough, I found my favourite, Annika Sorenstam (Sweden). This is her second last tournament before she retires, so you won’t be able to see her again.
Finally I took a break at the tent, had nice mushroom quiche, fried chicken, free flow of Tiger beer and Coke, fruits and scones! We had a good view of the 18th hole so I caught Paula Creamer in action as well.
My impressions of Western versus Asian golfers
Team Asia and Team International were 3-3 even yesterday, and when I left today it looked like Team Asia were winning. However, I have to say that while I could recognise players from Team International, I had difficulty identifying the Asian players unless I looked at their caddy’s jackets. Obviously I am not a hardcore golf fan or else I would probably know ALL of them. I speak as an occasional golf watcher who would only know the best or the most unusual players.
Firstly, we Asians are smaller-built, so beside the taller Westerners we don’t grab people’s attention. And some Asian players may not speak English well, so they are relatively quiet. They also don’t seem to have any distinguishing techniques or personal styles. In contrast, Annika was the former world no. 1 so everyone knows her. Another good player, Paula Creamer, is legendary for always wearing pink. I even heard random Singaporeans say, “Tomorrow’s the last day - she’ll be using her pink ball”. Then there’s Natalie Gulbis, the pinup girl of golf. The men were perking up when she arrived at the 18th hole.
So, somehow, I didn’t feel the same excitement for individual Asian players even though some were trouncing the International players. They’re already good, so as the next step they could market themselves better.
The only unusual player of Asian origin was Christina Kim, who has an intimidating figure and yet is also known for having cute pigtails. But she was playing for Team International, as she’s a US citizen. If Michelle Wie was here she’d probably be categorised as ‘International’ as well and playing against the Asians. That would look a bit strange, but I’ve noticed that people of Asian origin but born in the West, tend to have much weaker ties to Asia.
Which brings up another point - some good Asian sportspersons will migrate to the West (or other countries more affluent than theirs) but how often do good Western sportspersons migrate to Asia? There is obviously an imbalance and outflow of talent. Beyond golf, look at how many table tennis teams were originally from China. Even if a European country had won, we’d shrug it off as we know the players were originally from China.
So, considering all these factors and being pitted against the top talents from the rest of the world, I take my golf cap off to Team Asia for doing well so far.
As with the actual game of golf, there are certain ‘rules’ of etiquette to follow when you’re watching a tournament. The majority of Singaporeans watching golf tournaments are pretty well-behaved now. In previous years I noticed the organisers had to tell people off more often. This was usually for talking too loudly, clicking their cameras just as the golfer was about to swing, or letting their phone ring. It was quite annoying.
Less rude but still distracting is the rustling of feet on grass, dried leaves and twigs as people rush to see the action. During the crucial swing, volunteers typically hold up their ‘Silence’ signs and call everyone to stop walking. However, some people still walk on anyway, trying to get nearer to the players. Today it was good to see parents stopping their kids from walking about and talking.
I feel that we can all be more considerate and do our best to preserve the silence. This includes setting our electronic devices to ‘silent’ mode, which is a really simple thing to do. I don’t understand why digital cameras and phone cameras have to come with a fake ‘clicking’ noise. Even if people like the assurance of a fake noise, they can bloody well turn it off at these events! I looked hard at a lady whose camera made fake clicking noises. However she kept on clicking away. Fortunately she was relatively far away from the green. Golfers have been known to lose concentration at major events, causing them to miss their putt and lose big prize money. I wondered if causation could be proved and the offenders made to pay compensation. At least, they should be deprived of the photos that caused this to happen in the first place. (Am I in a punitive mood or what?!)
SLR cameras are another culprit. At least, professional photographers know to wait until the club hits the ball. A split-second later, when it’s safe to make noise, they then shoot multiple times. The audience has learnt to do that too, which is good.