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With the Covid virus on the run in many parts of the country, galleries of significant size are returning to tournaments.

Fans are scooping up tickets as soon as they become available, and gallery sizes are likely to grow as the season progresses.

Players have been vocal about missing the fans and the energy they bring. Fans also have been missed by the accountants. And the merchandise sellers. And the concession operators. Even the parking lot attendants.

Those of us in the television audience also have been denied the varying levels of excitement related to the presence of the gallery.

Here’s what we’ve missed:

  • People – mostly men, oddly enough – running toward a ball that’s hit out of bounds like it’s a wildcat and then surrounding it – but not getting too close because they’re afraid of being bitten. Then, again oddly, they stare at the ball like a phoenix is about to burst forth from it.
  • Guys – I’ve never heard a woman do this – who yell “In the hole!” after a drive on a par five. The result they seek never happens. Yet they never give up.
  • Some incredibly awful shirt and shorts combinations. The vivid and clashing colors make me wish my television screen wasn’t so bright. An additional helpful note: Black socks and sandals equal an abomination and a possible hanging offense.
  • People who live on the course and bring their dogs outside to watch the action. I hear barking and wait for the unique sound of Jon Rahm’s driver whacking a spaniel in the head.
  • A hundred different versions of “Ohhhhhhhh” as putts are missed.
  • Short-skirted women following Rory McIlroy around the course like he’s still single.
  • A fan who’s had too many course cheeseburgers over the years testing the strength – and width – of a small collapsible golf seat.
  • With about 7,000 cameras on the course, somebody in the gallery still has to point out where the ball landed in the trees.
  • The strange situation of a gallery at a green being graveyard quiet despite the fact that the crowd on the parallel fairway is erupting because of somebody making an eagle.

We’ve also missed:

  • The surge of humanity that sometimes follows an apparent winner as he or she walks to the 18th green.
  • Big Joe obviously enjoying a bag of French fries from the concession stand.
  • Significant other of Big Joe wondering where her fries went.
  • Phil Mickelson handing balls to delighted kids beyond the ropes.
  • Fans surrounding par three greens erupting in cheers when a shot lands within three feet of the flag.
  • The dramatic sense of wonder that flows through the crowd when Bryson DeChambeau sails a drive into the clouds.
  • The obvious respect shown to heroes like Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player when they’re on site.
  • A 10-year-old boy holding a flag, expectedly waiting for autographs.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.