Should we play on home advantage

Is it simply part of the game or is it unsportsmanlike behaviour which golf can do without?

YES says Dan Murphy – sport is supposed to be competitive

HOME advantage plays a massive part in any sport you care to name. In football, teams win twice as often at their own stadium as they do away.
In cricket, winning a Test series in India, even in the days when they were not recognised as one of the world’s top teams, has long been held as the ultimate challenge. The Lions, every four years, face the ultimate challenge of beating one of the rugby union giants of the Southern Hemisphere in their own back yard. Of the last nine series, dating back to the 1970s, they have won just two.
And home advanatge also counts in golf, whether we are talking about the Ryder Cup (it took GB&I/Europe until 1987 to win in America), the US Open (last year Graeme McDowell became the first European in 40 years to bring the trophy home), or a rabbits friendly.
Why should anyone make it easier for their visiting opponent?
When I’m away, I know it’s not going to be easy. Because not only do I have to beat my opponent, I also have to master an unfamiliar course. I’ll be mystified by the odd putt that I just can’t read, while he’ll know that a driver off the 8th is the wrong club. Which makes it all the more satisfying to win.  
By contrast, when I have home advantage, I know how easy it is to run out of fairway on the 10th, and that the putt up the 14th green is the slowest on the course. 
And it’s up to my opponent to work out these things for himself. If he wants to ask me about the existence of a water hazard or whether a field is out of bounds (yes of course it is), then that’s fine and I’ll answer as honestly as possible.
But I certainly won’t be volunteering that the fairway bunker on the semi-blind 12th is an excellent line – but only with a hybrid.
Apart from anything else, I would hate to be accused of gamesmanship.
“So, there’s out of bounds to the left (200 yards left, to be precise), and you really wouldn’t want to find one of the bunkers but then again the chip from the other side is basically impossible. Actually, the way you hit it, you might be best laying up and playing it as a par 5.”
I don’t think so.
Instead, let’s get on with the game in a friendly but competitive atmosphere – and may the best man on the day win.

“I look into their eyes, shake their hand, pat their back, and wish them luck, but I am thinking, ‘I am going to bury you.’” – Seve Ballesteros
Let’s get on with the game in a friendly but competitive atmosphere – and may the best man on the day win. NO says Joe Whitley, who wants to win but only in the right way

I LOST a recent 8-15s match at home in quite devastating fashion, and while walking down the 16th back to the clubhouse, my opponent told me he was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I was a) still talking to him and b) willing to impart my course knowledge throughout the round.
I’m very new to team golf but from what I was told it seems many matches are played in a hostile manner. 
Apparently, players at some clubs don’t say a word throughout the entire round, walk at the opposite side of the fairway to their opposition, and refuse to explain the layout of the more unusual or blind holes in order to gain an advantage.
I’m massively against this. I know it sounds like a cliche, but golf is a gentleman’s game and should be played as such. 
If I am going to win I want to win properly, through good play – not by gaining some unfair advantage from what I believe are unsportsmanlike methods.
These methods could be failing to tell my opposite number that there’s a huge tree in the middle of the fairway that you can’t see off the tee.
Or perhaps that the line they are taking looks safe but will in fact take them out of bounds.
I am all for taking the team matches seriously – and want to win as much as the next man – but would not be able to sleep at night knowing I near-enough cheated my way to a triumph.
For me it’s like winning a Major championship without Tiger Woods in the field – the victory still stands but there will be always something in the back of your mind questioning what could have been.
Padraig Harrington won two of his three Major titles while Woods was nursing his now infamous left knee, and I find it impossible to believe they won’t seem even in a little way hollow to the Irishman, given the absence of Woods – at that time the undisputed World No 1 – from the action.
Conversely, his win at Carnoustie in 2007, with Tiger in the field, will surely give him the most pride.
It’s the same when you’re representing your club in a team match. If you win after being unfriendly and unhelpful, the victory will be a hollow one. 
But win on a level playing field and you can fully enjoy and feel proud of your result. That is how I approach my golf.

“We want to win, which doesn’t mean we are going to be mean to each other. It will be played in the spirit of the game.” – Bernhard Langer, at the 2004 Ryder Cup

Previous article
Next article