Football generates hostility among win-at-all-cost fans.
Golf generates humility across all skill levels.
The Aug. 29 North Carolina-South Carolina and Aug. 31 Georgia-Clemson football season openers each will generate live gates of more than $5 million (more than 80,000 spectators times at least 70 bucks a ticket).
But the free-admission price is right for the 113th U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston.
And the scenic setting was right Wednesday, the first day of match play.
This repeatedly impressed member of the dozen or so in the gallery walking with the first pairing saw Yumi Matsubara rocket a 270-yard drive into the wind on No. 4.
When somebody says, “You hit a golf ball like that 14-year-old girl from Japan,” take it as lofty praise.
When 10-year-old Lucy Li misses that U.S. Women’s Amateur cut for match play by just two shots, take “You hit a golf ball like that 10-year-old girl from California” as a compliment too.
When players from not just Japan and the United States but Canada, Italy, the Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, Austria, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Indonesia, China, Goose Creek, Lexington, Greer and other distant realms play in our national women’s amateur championship on James Island, golf’s global appeal is on remarkable local display.
So is the opportunity to speak Japanese with supporters of Matsubara and Kotone Hori, who both won Wednesday to advance to this morning’s round of 32.
When you try to hit a golf ball well, you realize that age, sex, size and strength aren’t nearly as decisive in this challenging game as consistently striking the ball on the club’s sweet spot.
And when you watch golf, it’s tempting to play it.
That’s because though golf is difficult, it’s all too easy to think you could best a world-class player on a particular shot — or hole.
C’est la vie
Frenchman Jean van de Velde needed only a double bogey on the final hole of regulation to win the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland. Then he recorded a cringe-inducing triple-bogey 7, largely due to his own bad judgment.
Then he lost in a playoff.
Even many chronically crummy golfers, including this one, believe that given enough chances to play that hole (in my case, about 100), they could have managed at least one double bogey.
Yet few football fans, including this one, believe they can throw the ball better than Tajh Boyd as Jadeveon Clowney unleashes another fierce pass rush on him.
Even fewer of us want to try.
But if you want to try a refreshing diversion from the modern sports Sturm und Drang of obscene screams at coaches, players and officials and high-decibel commercials on stadium big screens during TV timeouts, try strolling the Country Club’s lovely links during the rest of the U.S. Women’s Am today, Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday.
No distracting noise. No charge for admission — or for parking in a lot on the corner of Folly and Albemarle roads, where a shuttle bus takes you to the course. No invitation required to see how the Country Club set lives — and where they play golf.
The splendid old Seth Raynor track is in showcase condition for the Golf Channel’s telecasts of the tournament.
However, the course didn’t merely look good Wednesday morning.
It smelled good: Fresh-cut grass blended with a salty hint of high-tide marsh into an alluring Lowcountry aroma.
And it felt good to see Charleston again playing the worthy host to a prestigious golf competition.
Hold that Tiger
Last year’s PGA Championship on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course was a winner as Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy appeared to emerge as the sport’s next dominant force with an eight-shot victory. But now McIlroy is having a lousy year.
Hey, as Tiger Woods — and Tiger Wooten — have often said, “Golf is hard.”
And Woods hasn’t won a major since ... well, in the spirit of golf’s good manners, let’s just say since 2008.
Back to Charleston as golf mecca: The thrilling U.S. victory over Europe in the 1991 Ryder Cup on the Ocean Course was memorable too — though its “War by the Shore” theme was an aberration of this good-sports sport.
So if you haven’t seen really good golfers hitting really good shots in person lately, show up live for the nationally televised attraction of international talent at the Country Club of Charleston.
If you haven’t played golf in quite a while, or ever, try it.
If you’re not welcome at the Country Club after Sunday, take the short drive up Maybank Highway to The Muni.
And if a 14-year-old girl can drive the ball 270 yards into the wind, imagine how far a 60-year-old man should hit it.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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