Mashed Potatoes Should Be Eaten Not Shouted

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA | The worst words in golf used to be, “You’re still away.”
Then the it became, “Carts on path.” Now the worst words are “baba booey.” Or “mashed potatoes.” Or “get in the hole.” Can someone please make it stop? These phrases, almost always bellowed by a young thirtysomething with his shirt untucked and his fourth beer in hand, are the irritating descendants of the godfather of all golf screams, “You ’da man.” That was amusing for a week or maybe even a month and it seemed to have been born in the glory of days of Fred Couples in those Ashworth shirts and saddle oxford golf shoes, back when he was cooler than cool (he still is) and everybody wanted to be part of the show. Pretty soon, everybody was ’da man, which meant nobody was ’da man. It became a recurring soundtrack at golf tournaments. Regardless of the player or the moment, somebody was always being ’da man even if they were missing greens and giving off a glare like DeNiro in Goodfellas. Mercifully, “You ’da man” lost its appeal and went the way of cassette tapes. Now, we’re forced to deal with its obnoxious offspring, which practically drowned out the velvety golf tones of Jim Nantz at the PGA Championship. “It’s kind of annoying,” says Carl Pettersson, who’s as easy to get along with as an ice cream sundae. “I don’t think anyone really enjoys it.” Except the guy yelling it, who undoubtedly has programmed his DVR so he can go home that night and listen to himself hollering at a golf ball. That’s what happens when you can’t get a date. This is the age of Twitter and Facebook, which means it’s the age of drawing attention to yourself. That was the genius of those creations, tapping into that part of us that wants to scream, “Hey, look at me.” After seemingly every shot hit at Oak Hill, some guy was screaming “baba booey” or “mashed potatoes.” It wasn’t as noticeable at the Wyndham Championship, but dreary weather conditions prevailed and it wasn’t being played in New York. That’s not to say the good people of Greensboro don’t understand proper golf distractions. Years ago, the par-3 17th hole at Forest Oaks Country Club (the previous tournament site) was golf’s version of a frat party. It was so noisy and so full of barley and hops that concession stands were moved a one-beer walk away to cut down on the commotion. Eventually the hole became just another quiet par-3 and the tournament then moved to Sedgefield Country Club, where there’s an official “Margaritaville” party zone near the clubhouse where you might actually be able to order mashed potatoes. “I’m from the country so stuff like (yelling ‘baba booey’) doesn’t bother me but that’s just my opinion,” says Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. “I think it’s a lot of alcohol.” I think he’s right. It’s great when fans are involved at golf tournaments. It needs to be fun. When Bubba Watson waves on the crowd on the first tee at the Ryder Cup, asking them to keep up the jet-engine roar while he shreds another tee shot, it’s fun. When his opponent asks and receives the same treatment, it’s terrific. But it’s that one voice, that one person who can kill a good time, like the guy at the bar who wants to talk about his fantasy-football team or the “mashed potatoes” guy. “If they yell it during my shot, I’ll be upset,” Robert Garrigus says. “If it’s after my shot … mashed potatoes, baba booey, who cares?” When a clown yelled “mashed potatoes” at Graeme McDowell in last year’s World Challenge, G-Mac responded with a subtle gesture and a muttered comment. You can find it on YouTube and I promise you’ll be amused. “It’s guys wanting attention,” Nick Watney says. “I think it’s more annoying watching on TV than actually being out there.” Maybe, but it’s pretty annoying being there, too. Just ask Ian Poulter’s Twitter feed (@IanJamesPoulter) which included this message: “This baba boo (stuff) & mash potato crap shouting wouldn’t happen at Augusta, The Open, nor would it happen at Wimbledon. Tazer the thrushes.” Poulter is right about Augusta. It might happen once there but not twice, another reason to appreciate Augusta National.


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