"Don't yell 'You Da Man!'": 8 ways to be a good fan at this weekend's BMW Classic
The 2023 BMW Championship, which as the Western Open debuted in 1899 in Glenview, hits Olympia Fields Country Club through Aug. 20.
The penultimate event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup contributes all its proceeds to the Glenview-based Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides full tuition and housing college scholarships to caddies.
Since 2007 the BMW Championship has provided more than $44.5 million to these scholarships.
That's an aspect important to John Hamilton, a former PGA Tour volunteer of the year who lives in Wheaton.
Starting decades ago at Butler National Golf Course in Oak Brook, Hamilton has volunteered for the Glenview-based Western Golf Association for 45 years. It's his 12th year as a volunteer for the BMW Championship.
One of the 2,000 volunteers the tournament needs to run smoothly, Hamilton is the tournament's course marshal chairman. The Herald asked for his tips on gallery etiquette at a big tournament like the BMW. The good news, is he believes most people are on their best behavior.
"The spectators, in my opinion, are excellent," Hamilton said.
Still, he stresses fans should give the golfers and their caddies space, shouldn't be shifting around when they're playing, and should refrain from yelling things like, "You Da Man!"
More on that to come ...
1. Silence and stillness:
"That's very important when players are hitting the ball. Our people have 'Quiet" signs they hold up," Hamilton said.
2. Respect personal space:
"A lot of people want to get up real close, especially when a ball goes outside the ropes," he said. This also is a factor when players come off the course, funneled between ropes toward the clubhouse or scorer's tent. No high-five requests. "The players generally disregard that," Hamilton said.
3. Stay behind the ropes:
"The ropes are there for a reason, to give the players all the space they need to do their job."
4. Minimal cellphone use:
Hamilton said that not too long ago, players complained so often about fans' cellphone noises that tournament organizers formed a "cellphone committee" and established designated areas where fans could use them. Officials even confiscated the phones of anyone they saw using one.
They don't take such a hard line on that any longer, but fans still must keep their cellphones quiet. "Keep your cellphone on silent or on vibrate during the tournament," Hamilton said.
5. Observe gallery etiquette:
"That goes along with everything," Hamilton said. "Be mindful of the players. Stay quiet and still so that you're not moving or making noise while they're hitting the ball."
6. No heckling or distracting:
"That's a big one," said Hamilton, who sees this as a recent phenomenon. "When Tiger (Woods) came to the tour, that changed. Nobody hollered at Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus like they did with Woods."
Here's where "You Da Man" comes in. Please refrain.
"Walking down fairways is one thing, but when they're on the tee or the green we want to make sure it's quiet so they're not distracted by that," Hamilton said.
7. Follow instructions:
Observe directions should an official note safety precautions, when to cheer or when to be quiet, and course or gallery layout while following a group.
8. Applaud and respect:
"The players appreciate it when they hit a good shot and people applaud and cheer. That's good sportsmanship," Hamilton said. "The only problem is, don't cheer or applaud in the middle of a player's swing. Just show respect."
Professional golf is unique from many sports in that the athletes may be just a club's length or two away from fans with only a flimsy cord in between.
Hamilton reinforced something that seems obvious, but may get lost.
"It's their job," he said.
For information and tickets for the golf tournament at Olympia Fields, visit bmwchampionship.com.