As Friday evening unfolded, most of you were kicking back and relaxing with your family, some might have gotten screwed with work, a lucky but considerable number embarked on memorable adventures exploring an exotic part of the world, the rest drank beer (domestic) and watched football, and a very small,
mostly hand-picked and exclusive crowd gathered at The Plaza Hotel for the Bazaar “Icon” party, which featured a performance and impromptu, “stream of consciousness speech about the critiques of his latest fashion collection” from Kanye.
But about *maybe* 10 golf geeks were glued to their Twitter timelines in fascination as two-time PGA Tour winner Steven Bowditch exchanged tweets with a high school teenager who had been shamelessly trolling the Australian golfer for months. As any golf fan knows, Bowditch hasn’t simply had a “down” or “rough” year; it’s been straight-up brutal. Try to put yourself in his position, and trust me, he’s trying his best and putting in the practice time. At first, his poor play started out as a bit of a lame but sort of funny joke I’d see on Twitter and in Fantasy Golf league email chains.
When the ’15-’16 season started, a red flag kind of went up at the second event of the year in Vegas, where Bowditch opened with an 80, but then showed his grit when he fought back with a 68 the next day and made the cut. He closed with rounds of 71-83. It’s okay, though. Just a blip. After all, Bowditch was coming off the best season of his career with his second victory at the 2015 Byron Nelson Classic near his adopted-hometown of Dallas, his primary residence for over a decade (take note: not a new thing or even close — after all, the official-unofficial rule in NYC is that only after 10 years are you “officially” granted permission to label yourself a “New Yorker”
ugh but I kinda go by it.
He had also been selected as a captain’s pick for the Internationals at the Presidents Cup and made it to the Tour Championship for the first time (which is a bigger deal than it sounds because it comes with lots of perks and exemptions that are meant to provide you with less stress and set you up well for even more success.
But then 2016 happened. (Over it. Let’s get to 2017 already.) After opening the year with a T10 winners-only, guaranteed sizable paycheck (one of those aforementioned perks) at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, things started to look a little more disheartening for the 33-year-old, good-natured Australian. Indeed, Bowdo did post an 87 in the first round of the Sony Open at Waialae (one of the more scoring-friendly courses on the Tour schedule), but to his credit, he followed it up with a 66, which had to have broken some sort of record-setting scoring improvement stat. Respect, dude.
It didn’t take long to start cringing a bit when checking the scoreboard and feeling second-hand frustration and mental agony. Starting at the Valspar Championship, the second leg of the Florida swing in March, Bowditch missed five straight cuts. By May, it seemed like a bunch of annoying issues popped up one after the other to start dragging anyone down. Sure, #firstworldproblems or #spoiledtourpro #etc. Dude is still going to rake in half-a-million more than you’ll ever see in one year. (By comparison, Bowditch earned over $3 million in the 2014-15 season on the golf course; don’t forget, golfers are afforded pretty generous endorsement deals, too.) Yeah, but that’s not the point. Try to understand being a Tour pro of Bowditch’s caliber and playing just terribly. Well, I have a feeling he’s experienced worse and more pain — and not even in the public sphere — and has some perspective.
Naturally, many people on Twitter forget that professional athletes, celebrities, comedians, journalists, etc. are actual people, and even those with gazillions of followers do read some of their replies from haters/trolls and they are still humans who have feelings. Excuse me while I get on my soapbox for a moment. 99% of people would never ever say what they tweet to some people to their face, but instead, feel comfortable hiding behind anonymous accounts and computers to just spew hate for their personal entertainment, boredom and/or misery.
People forget the impact simple dumb words can have on anyone and it’s not about being “PC” — I’m obviously not exactly the most “PC” person in the world, especially in golf, but there’s a huge difference between voicing a thought-out opinion, a poignant personal experience, or research backed-up with hard facts and hate-spewing. There is often a thin line between what’s insensitive and what’s funny. Things are often lost in translation, particularly sarcasm. But most notably, more and more react (hey, I’m guilty of this but I don’t hate-spew/troll) without realizing the impact their words can have and it’s actually not a productive use of their time to put others down so it serves some Freudian shortcoming or whatever the hell the irrational, illogical “reason” is.
We can disagree yet still have a civil discussion without getting nasty and hate-spewing. I have seen a slight improvement on this front and I didn’t want to bring his name up on this medium (though I have somewhat liberally on Twitter), but whether you agree with his motives, cause, method or stupid socks, the Kaepernick controversy has seemingly made some people stop and think and have a productive, stimulating talk about these issues and opinions.
All I ask here is for the trolls and anonymous commenters to take a moment to think about their actions and reactions and try to ask themselves, “Do I understand this person’s experience or do I have any clue what it is like to be in this person’s shoes?” Usually, the answer is “no.” OK, I will stop before I get on another soapbox.
Despite the constant and utter humiliation of Bowditch, who is no stranger to perseverance, has never once complained or shown too much emotion one way or the other — even though it would’ve been understandable. What I’m saying in a long-winded way is that he has handled a mentally-draining and horrible slump like a true professional. He has used humor as an outlet. He consistently has responded to trolls and shut them down because he turns the joke on them. It’s excellent.
There are many, many examples, but an earlier in the season one that stands out was this beauty…
@JdmLarry88 dude if your playing me at the moment your drafting is worse then my golf!
— Bowdo (@bowdo83) July 1, 2016
Amazing. But this standalone tweet during Firestone has to go under the all-time greats list:
Even the tour can’t believe I broke 80! pic.twitter.com/56tXnkZ6Be
— Bowdo (@bowdo83) July 1, 2016
I mean, I’ve seen that hundreds of times now and I still get a kick out of it. However, Bowdo has managed to one-up himself and take it to yet another level. He showed compassion, empathy and simply kindness to a long-time troller, who is a 16- or 17-year-old high school kid. Which makes sense that Bowditch would be gentler to an impressionable punk kid. But he is also pretty kind to the adult grown-up ones that should know better. From what I could glean from stalking and creeping Charlie’s Twitter timeline last night — which felt almost wrong because he’s a kid, but wait, these days it’s considered “research” or “reporting — he’s a massive sports fan. He lives and dies watching every second of the actual event and then offers an occasional teenage comment. No big deal. Just silly stuff kids say. Hell, people, in general. The kid enjoys all the major American sporting events and most of his timeline consists of RTs of popular sports websites and blogs or personalities/media types and shout-outs to specific golfers. Golf seems like it is his passion. The kid loves fantasy golf so much that he even sets a line-up for the European Tour (along with the PGA Tour, of course). Just a sampling of random tweets:
It takes a couple months into 2016 for Charlie to notice that Bowditch isn’t having the best season in the world, to say the least. He starts with sending this relatively harmless tweet on June 30th.
Kid grows bolder with his next tweet in July:
Most trolls/haters don’t expect a reply, so that throws Charlie off and gets him to lay off for a bit. In fact, when people they don’t expect a response from do reply, it throws them off sometimes and they quickly backtrack and do a 180. Sometimes people just want to be heard, ya know? It’s alright! It’s normal. August hits. The kid gets bored and starts *really* crossing the line, and while Bowdo does rebuff him, he does so very gently and cordially. #kidgloves applies here. At this point, I was ready to go into break out those codes mode. That sort of trolling and idiocy does not warrant a response! But Saint Bowdo manages to respond civilly. Are you serious? OK, he’s only 17. We were all 17 once. Still. I was part of the AOL generation. We had profiles, group chatrooms with friends or I guess sometimes random online chats (AIM, FTW!), but you didn’t have to worry about the crap we do in the modern world of social media, where we all have five devices and 12 different ways to critique and insult each other.
If you’re a fellow child of the ’90s, chances are you had an AOL/AIM account. The only concern in those days were essentially potential pedophiles and predators if you frequented random chat rooms. I wasn’t brave enough do go beyond my circle of friends. Besides, AOL was marketed as a “safe” members-only space, so you need not fear for the potential pedophiles or predators in cyberspace, but I don’t even remember one sketchy or hateful interaction in those early days of AOL/AIM as a teenager. It was also almost half a lifetime ago, so I’m sure there was some controversial shit that happened, but as I always say, I’M SO GLAD I’M NOT A PRE-TEEN OR HIGH SCHOOL TEENAGER IN 2016, or rather, I’M SO GLAD WE DIDN’T HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA BACK THEN.
Alright, on the eve of the first round of the BMW Championship on Wednesday, Charlie is extra bored and really cranky. Maybe he’s not happy to be back in school. Maybe he missed the bus. Maybe he got bullied at school by the star QB. For whatever reason, Charlie takes it up a notch. Naturally, so does Bowdo — in the most good-humored way possible — easily outdoes him and inches it up another level, which successfully shuts it down. But not too fast, Charlie is back for more on Thursday! Ed. note: Here’s where the screen shots might get a little more confusing, but you’ll figure it out or get the gist.
Basically, I didn’t take screen grabs of every single tweet he ever posted, but almost! And since he deleted and locked his account, we can’t see the tweets he didn’t anymore, so Bowdo’s timeline also doesn’t make sense. Let’s try to piece as much together as possible. I mean, you couldn’t haven’t scripted this stuff.
Well, that’s what you call compassion, which a lot of people forget about on the interwebs. At this point, kid has to be done, right? How can you continue to troll Bowdo, of all people?!?! But, no! — Charlie is back again the next day!
Now this is verging on ridiculous. Charlie, please, stop. But the kid can’t help himself.
On Thurday evening, Bowditch showed Charlie more mercy. He poked fun at him and I think kinda of berated him more harshly than he previously had — so, he was maybe a slightly less saintly version of the late Mother Teresa. Not long after the tweet went up, Bowditch deleted his comment on the RT of the kid’s tweet (again, kid deleted Friday night/Saturday morning).
Then, this! This kid is unreal. Are all teens punks like this? Is this punk an “average” teenager? OK, Charlie is either the boldest kid ever, a straight-up punk/brat, or just not very bright. His next move: Kid challenges Bowdo to a match, names the course, Tour 18 that he claims is his H.S. home course (yet locals say the two destinations are 45 minutes away from each other, but sometimes that happens…) as the venue, and even throws in a time: 2pm Saturday.
First, though, Charlie, who has seemingly devoted a crap-load of time on the life and times of Steven Bowditch and is the premiere Bowdo expert in the field, had NO IDEA Bowdo lived in Dallas. Again, Bowdo has called Dallas home for more than 10 years. This was not a secret or something you couldn’t easily Google. The kid continues to impress when you think it’s virtually impossible.
As a bit of an ignorant teen, Charlie seems to be under the ignorant impression that because Bowditch is Australian, he must live in Australia because it’s not like nearly every other foreign player and/or every Aussie on the PGA Tour — with the exception of Adam Scott (Bahamas, close enough!) — doesn’t live in the U.S. because he is Australian.
Bowdo gives this kid chance after chance after chance and tries to push him in the right direction and encourage him in a constructive, insightful manner, but Charlie only gets more aggressive, doubles down, but then starts to backpedal before having a personality clash with himself, keeps lying and digging a deeper hole, and finally, cowardly backing down per expected. I had hoped he would see the light and take the massive olive branch Bowdo kept extending farther and farther out to him.
He showed more patience and compassion than just about anyone and majority of Tour pros would have likely hit the block button immediately after Charlie’s first tweet back in June. Eventually, Bowdo has to school this kid and spell it out: LIFE LESSONS. Charlie doesn’t even have the guts to take him up on his generous offer for an enlightening and very cool experience! Sigh.
Bowdo is one persistent dude and tried his best to make a difference and help this kid out. I mean, he went above and beyond and then took it to another level, but to no avail.
But then of course, the kid backed out and ran away and Bowdo managed to turn a negative trolling situation into something positive. Now, that takes a certain level of skill that is impossible to achieve on the golf course.
— Bowdo (@bowdo83) September 10, 2016
Oh, one thing thing: Those three golfers would like to know where they should send their thank-you notes to Charlie.