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Is the gentleman's game about to become unruly?

Max Homa's recent verbal sparring match with a spectator calls into question the role of gambling when a disruption in play could sway a fan's wager and affect a player's paycheck. Readers of The First Call weigh in with their opinions

Max Homa
A spectator during the BMW Championship's third round on August 20 attempted to distract Max Homa, who was in the middle of his putting stroke on the 17th green. Homa made the putt and then called out the spectator, who reportedly had a $3 bet on the putt's outcome.

Question of the week [August 21-27]: Given the potential for fan disruption, similar to what occurred with Max Homa at the BMW Championship, should live betting be allowed during PGA Tour events? 

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

Bad behavior has become the norm at golf tournaments — from fans yelling Baba Booey and mashed potatoes for years to fans live betting. So this is nothing new. However, the vaunted prima donnas playing golf need to accept the new normal and suck it up. Maybe they can block out the noise by thinking cha-ching cha-ching on the absurd and obscene amounts of money they are making. 

Mark Koszyk 
Prospect Heights, Illinois

Of course live betting should not be allowed. What good can possibly come from it because it is only for individuals with a gambling problem (shame on the PGA Tour for enabling and pushing it), for the greed of the PGA Tour and online betting companies. Very disappointed in the Tour.

Lee Lambrada
Charleston, South Carolina

The problem is not betting, which has been a part of the game forever, but courtesy and consideration of others. The rules begin with stating an expectation that all players act with integrity, show consideration and care for the course. Those parts of the game traditionally extend to spectators.

Thomas A Franko
Chatham, New Jersey

The answer is until that start of play on the final day. You bet before window closes, you own it.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

Spectators that act poorly should be removed. Although a great sport to watch and be a part of, it is still a gentlemen's game.

Chris Gates
LaGrange, Ohio

No. Golf is different than football, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.  

The fans for the other sports can legitimately yell and scream for their players and teams as loudly as they can with no problem. Golf, as I understand the sport, assumes that the player will be given a period of quiet and no distractions as they prepare and take his / her swing.  Exceptions are the orignial Scottish matches and Ryder Cup — oh, and the WasteD Management Phoenix Open, but I digress.

We enjoy a player overcoming a huge challenge, but sabotage from a non-competitor who is probably drunk and has a financial benefit from screwing with the player is not the challenge we should seek. 

Mark Chatfield
Houston, Texas

So you really think that there is a means to prohibit a bet between two numbskulls in a crowd of literally thousands watching a sporting event?

Are you serious? That idea isn’t even remotely possible and, moreover, the only problem was the guy decided to go public with just how stupid he is. The PGA Tour has failed to control patrons for as long as they’ve been selling tickets. It’s the risk of operating in a public forum. Get over it.

Peter Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

I believe this is a moot point. I do not think the PGA Tour, USGA or other powers that be have any control over what kind of wagers can be placed on pro golf. So I do not think they can end live wagering even if they wanted to. Plus, it seems that the two spectators in question in the [Max] Homa case may have been betting with each other. The issue is that the PGA Tour has allowed this screaming, shouting, etc., to get out of control. It makes me cringe every time I hear someone scream "get in the hole" on a drive on a par 5 — or at any time for that matter. The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is one thing, players know it is there, they know what to expect. But if you’re playing in the FedEx Tournament for $3.6 million and trying to make a huge birdie putt and some moron/drunk is screaming at a nearby tee box while you stroke your putt, that person should be tossed out the door. The PGA Tour needs to start sending a message that this behavior will no longer be tolerated. 

Tom Swales
Belmar, New Jersey

No, live betting shouldn't be allowed. This type of incident shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. It was bound to happen, and it will only get worse. Max [Homa] made his putt and he wasn't really in contention, but what if the same yahoo had yelled as Viktor Hovland drew back his putter on the 18th at BMW? That could have ruined a round for the ages and affected the entire outcome of the tournament. When it comes down to it, betting on golf period, not just live betting, will eventually produce more of these types of incidents. Betting will continue, so steps should be taken to minimize this problem, but most likely nothing will be done. Some people are having fun and others are making a lot of money, so why should we worry about the game itself?

John Abercrombie
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

The expansion of overall betting for all sports is disturbing, but the tsunami has arrived and won’t be receding anytime soon. If the correlation between fan misbehavior and the betting can be established, then it should be banned. Fans yelling at golfers during strokes is an absolute violation of courtesy and respect. Civil penalties should be assessed by the PGA Tour against violators for their disrespectful behavior toward players and other fans. I have attended many PGA Tour events and I am concerned about the lack of control over intoxicated fans and the lack of monitoring and refusal to service fans who have had enough.

Gary Link
Maple Grove, Minnesota

Ethically it sucks, but how are you going to control it? I don’t believe it can be stopped.

John Brewton
Johns Island, South Carolina

Short answer? No, absolutely not, but it’s too late now.  The PGA Tour is all-in. It’s inevitable that an event, likely a major, will be the stage for an embarrassing and unfortunate incident.  

John Gardner
Ft. Meyers, Florida


I would go to Spain, then Portugal, then Scotland and finish in Ireland. All in the months of August and September. 

Larry LaCross
Monterey Park, California

For our magic trip, we would fly into Belfast or Dublin and then play Royal County Down, followed by Royal Portrush. Not sure where we would stay, but probably a small hotel with a great pub. Then we would fly or take a ferry to Isley and play The Machrie, stay at the hotel there or a B&B, making sure to sample some single malts. Then go back to the mainland and play Machrihanish and Machrihanish Dunes, while staying at the Ugadale. Then fly home. Best of both countries and very local.

If there is time we could sneak over for a quick round at Dunaverty.

Robert Oram
Poulsbo, Washington

I don't know, but it would likely be an Open Championship rota or the best of Ireland and Scotland over the East Coast of Canada. However, as my bride would remind me, all expenses doesn’t include the hotel bills when I get home.

Peter Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

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