Kevin Garside: Geoff Ogilvy is quite right... journalists should not be cheerleaders for golfers but must be able to call them to account for their actions

‘Brandel being able to share with us his assessment is too important to be abused’

Here’s a question for your Christmas quiz: which major championship did Geoff Ogilvy win? No, it’s not a trick question. OK, he might not be the most celebrated golfer in the world, but by his own hand Ogilvy might just have made the most important contribution by an active sportsman to this year’s literary canon. And what he wrote made him champion enough for me.

Ogilvy entered the court of Tiger Woods and shouted “No.” He raised his hand for freedom of speech, not only for the inviolable right of journalists to pass reasoned judgement on sporting gods but of the necessity to do so free from interference and coercion. Using the platform of his column at golfdigest.com Ogilvy went into bat for Brandel Chamblee, a former golfer turned pundit, who questioned Woods’ integrity over a number of controversial rulings in which he was involved this year, alleging that he was cavalier with the rules and likening Woods’ behaviour to his own as a child when he cheated in a maths test.

The cheating bit was a clumsy association and one he later retracted. Ogilvy did not agree with Chamblee’s view. He endorsed Woods’ reputation as an honest golfer but not the way in which Chamblee was hounded by the Woods camp, the way pressure was applied to silence a critic. “I can’t say I agree with what Brandel Chamblee had to say about Tiger. Not completely anyway. His was a pretty strong point of view, one I would hesitate to replicate when talking about anyone, never mind the best player of this generation. I certainly don’t think Tiger is ‘cavalier’ with the rules,” wrote Ogilvy.

“But here’s the thing. The resulting backlash against Brandel was also unfair. While he used language that was, in places, too hyperbolic for my taste, the principle of him being able to share with us his expert assessment is too important to be abused. To my mind, Brandel is one of the best things on Golf Channel. And let’s be clear: he isn’t employed to give us facts; he is there to offer opinion. So he should be allowed to do so. That’s what frustrated me most about this entire affair: the idea that someone in the media should somehow not be able to call it the way he or she sees it. That doesn’t sit well with me.

“Maybe tour players are just too spoiled. Because we are pampered in so many areas of our lives, we perhaps have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the media. In general we’d be better off not being so precious about what appears in print and on screen. Our relationship with the media should be similar to what we have with our parents or closest friends: one where absolute frankness is best for all concerned.

“I like the notion that the press in all its forms exists to hold tour players accountable for their actions. Journalists and broadcasters should not be mere cheerleaders. There’s too much of that in golf right now, to be honest. And not nearly enough untainted honesty. If correspondents do nothing more than claim how great everything is, any semblance of reality is lost.”

Well said that man. It is not just the armed response units that go in when journalists upset someone that must be countered but the oversensitive management executives who minesweep before a question is asked. You would think journalists came armed with guns instead of tape recorders. Members of the fourth estate must submit to greater screening these days than passengers at Heathrow before they are allowed to put a microphone in front of a subject.

Only last week representatives of Mike Tyson asked that a list of five questions be submitted beforehand so Iron Mike would have an idea about the lines of inquiry relating to his autobiography, entitled The Undisputed Truth. No recognition of, or gratitude for, the service provided by a national newspaper helping to flog a few copies. The book lays bare in all its visceral detail the brutal climb from the streets of Brooklyn to the height of infamy; the crime, the drugs, the fights and the nights that followed. How can any question unsettle a figure of Tyson’s sensibilities after he has detailed his proclivities in a book? Five questions? How’s this for starters: Mike, what’s your favourite movie?

Another example of rampant control-freakery came from a football agent demanding copy approval on behalf of his Premier League client before he would consent to an interview, despite the fact that said client was endorsing a popular gaming product. You are right, we could always say no, but curiosity always gets the better of me, the vague hope that there might be something new and interesting waiting to be said by sport’s increasingly beige brotherhood.

And that major win? The 2006 US Open.

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice