Are Gambling Fans Now Getting Out Of Hand?

Last week we had an incident where a fan shouted on the backswing of a Max Homa birdie putt at the penultimate hole of the third round. Homa, playing in the last group out with Chris Kirk, made the putt and later revealed that the fan had been trying to put him off.

“There was a probably drunk, I hope for his case, or else he’s just the biggest loser there is,” Homa explained. “He was cheering and yelling at Chris for missing his putt short. One of them had $3 for me to make mine, and I got to the back of my backstroke, and he yelled, “pull it” pretty loud, and I made it right in the middle.

“Then I just started yelling at him, and then Joe [Greiner, Homa’s caddy] yelled at him. I love that people can gamble on golf, but that is the one thing I’m worried about. I don’t know what he had to lose. [I said] that he’s a clown, with maybe another word. I don’t know what Joe yelled.

"It’s on us to stay focused or whatever, but it’s just annoying when it happens. It just sucks when it’s incredibly intentional, and his friend specifically said it was for $3 – not that the money matters, but that’s a frustrating number.”

This week at East Lake the leading contenders were asked about this subject and Jon Rahm admitted that it was more prevalent than most of us probably imagined.

"I feel like we hear it every single round. That happens way more often than you guys may hear. It's very, very present. In golf, spectators are very close, and even if they're not directly talking to you, they're close enough to where if they say to their buddy, I bet you 10 bucks he's going to miss it, you hear it.

"So it happens more often than you think. I think the Tour maybe should look into it because you don't want it to get out of hand, right? It's very easy in golf if you want to affect somebody. You're so close, you can yell at the wrong time, and it's very easy for that to happen. But at the same time, it would be extremely difficult for the Tour to somehow control the 50,000 people scattered around the golf course, right? So it's a complicated subject."

Rory McIlroy was also asked about this and he revealed that it has been a topic of discussion for some time now.

“We have talked about this at the board and the PAC [player advisory council] level for a few years. It is a bit of a slippery slope because I don’t think there’s any other sport – maybe basketball and you can sit courtside, but it’s a different environment - where people can really affect the play out here.

“As long as it’s policed the right way and as long as there’s measures put in place for things like what happened to Max Homa not to happen. Because we’re all for people out here having a good time and being able to put something on an outcome, as long as they don’t feel like they can come here and influence that outcome. That’s important.”