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Black and white fading to gray in grand old game

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

When it comes to the games people play, we love to choose sides. Isn't that what it is all about? Davis Love III was wrong to go after the heckler at the World Golf Championship's Match Play Championship. Couldn't DL-Chazzy Chet just put his head down, blinders on and play golf?

Craig Parry was right on the money for thinking Johnny Miller's comments about his quirky golf swing were out of line. Some has-been in the booth shouldn't pick on a current player, especially one that just jarred a 176-yard eagle to win a sudden death playoff on one of the toothiest finishing holes in golf.

Oh, Davis Love III's witch hunt was totally justified you say? Taunting and heckling have no place in game with the tradition and gentlemanly nature of golf? Yeah, and Love, with his stick figure arms and slight Michelob Ultra pot belly, was just the man to put the fear of God in the feisty fan, right?

So here we are. We've finally made it. Professional golf is actually interesting now. Well, Annie, get your pitching wedge. First we get a minority phenom from the military courses of Southern California to put all these initial toting country club boys in their place.

Then a hard-partying, class clown wins the 2002 PGA Championship and dawns a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops in lieu of a new smug attitude. And after that? You know the deal - women play on Tour, a girl plays on Tour, a transgendered person plays on Tour (well, not THE TOUR).

Pardon me while I step back and take a side of my own - this is all good.

Remember when controversy on the PGA Tour amounted to Nick Faldo coming from six strokes back to beat Greg Norman by an unthinkable five strokes at the 1996 Masters -- and then hugging him? Or Craig Stadler cutting down a tree - with the course's permission. Sure, we always had the Ryder Cup for some juicy story lines and subplots. But 24 months transpire between Cups, people. Golf fans need this - all of this - and we need it bad.

We need Jonathon Kaye - the old one - who used to mix it up with security guards and other players. We need the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open and all the sodden debauchery that comes with it. We need Annika and Michelle and other women who are so good and so compelling we refer to them by one name only. Frankly, I don't even care if Ken Venturi takes a few ex posto facto low blows at the King. That's what celebrity boxing is for.

I'll take it all, and twice on Sundays.

You won't have any part of it? I respect that. Truth is, we are in a transitional period in golf. We have the old school and the new school and a big, hazy gray area in between (that may or may not be one of Aaron Baddeley's shirts). The three figure heads emeriti of professional golf are all old enough to remember the Beatles, the Vietnam War and inferior equipment. The new set of young guns on Tour appear to have been dropped on the practice range from an Urban Outfitters blimp.

Attempting to bridge the gap are guys like Mickelson, Tiger and Beemer. Observing it all are media types like Gary McCord and David Feherty who dress like Beem, talk like Bads, but still remember the Beatles. In other words, in one man's opinion, we are in nothing short of the golden age of golf.

Speaking of golden, if I could just get in one more round of Golden Tee before this place closes.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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