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.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?