Tuesday 25 October 2016

Working it out: An occasional thank you is pleasing

John Masterson

Published 01/02/2016 | 02:30

Andy Sullivan tees off in the second round of the Abu Dhabi
HSBC Championship. Photo:Reuters
Andy Sullivan tees off in the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Photo:Reuters

There was a very good lesson on the importance of manners on Sky Sports recently. Not their usual fare but they made an excellent job of it.

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Many of the best golfers in the world were pounding the little white ball in Abu Dhabi. One three-ball was made up of Rory McIlroy, the very talented Andy Sullivan who was in the lead, and the US amateur champion, 22-year-old Bryson DeChambeau from California who has burst on the scene as something of a golf scientist/nerd. Which makes his etiquette lapse all the more surprising.

Manners are something we absorb as we grow up. People who say their 'pleases' and 'thank yous' as youngsters usually do it for the rest of their lives. There are men who would find it as difficult not to hold a door open for a woman as they would to throw litter in the High Street. While we vary as to just how good manners need to be, it is the rare person who does not acknowledge that a little courtesy for your fellow man goes a long way.

Back to golf. In the third round, Andy Sullivan thumped a drive out to the right. The ball appeared to disappear into a tuft of spiky grass where it should be easily found. There were enough people watching it. He arrived at where he thought it was and began to search. It soon became apparent that it might be lost and that costs two expensive shots and you only have five minutes. Immediately, Rory began to help the search, just like any club four-ball golfer would. His caddy JP dropped everything and also began to help. Bryson DeChambeau stood by his ball at the other side of the fairway and paid no attention.

It had begun to register on me that this looked odd when the commentators began remarking on the same thing. They did not want to be too critical of the young amateur, but he has been around golf since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Their outrage at his behaviour got the better of them. Try as they might the commentary team could not excuse this behaviour. It is just not the way a person should behave. It was in Rory's interests for the ball to be lost as he would move towards leading, but a golfer, even a professional in fierce competition, does not think that way when a ball is lost.

This lapse in behaviour was in my mind as I came upon a young woman with a buggy who was having difficulty exiting a shop door with a strong spring. I held the door open and she lined herself up and left the shop. Did she say 'thank you'? She didn't even acknowledge my existence. Now I have never had to struggle with buggy, child and a million other things, so maybe I should cut her some slack.

I continued down a narrow street. There was room for one person to pass. I stepped aside to allow a woman pass. Identical ignorance from her.

I hope I never have to play golf with either of them. Or Bryson.

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