By Ryan Ballengee
Photo: Rob Hayashida
In case you haven't noticed, there has been quite a bit of reaction in the press and in the blogosphere about the kind of celebrating and showboating that the Americans did during the Solheim Cup. While some it centered around the incessant Hustle butt bumping (Is this the 70s?! Do the Mackarena for crying out loud!), a lot of it was focused on Christina Kim's celebrating.
Check out the thoughts from John Huggan, Mark Reason, Fanhouse (on a separate note: please, Greg Couch, just stop), Golf Digest's Local Knowledge, Stephanie Wei, the SI Golf Group, and the banter at Geoff Shackelford's joint for a taste of what others are saying.
Here's my thought on it. Not to rip off of Rich Lerner, but golf needs more people like Christina Kim. She is like the female Tommy Bolt for this generation. Kim is engaging, has a potty mouth, and tells some awesome stories. My round caddying for her in a pro-am in like '03 was one of the best experiences that I have ever had playing golf. It is difficult not to like someone that charismatic as a playing partner or watching.
It's not like she or any other American pulled a Terrell Owens after each holed putt. No Sharpie ball signings. No signing of the television cameras. No snow angels on the green after dropping a bomb for birdie.
Kim didn't ride her driver down the fairway like Boo Weekley did at last year's Ryder Cup--a tribute to Happy Gilmore that I loved. She did a lot of fist pumps, shouted to the crowd to get them going, and danced a lot. Isn't that the kind of thing that critics say is missing from the game?
So many modern professional golfers are stiffs on the course, resigned to show as little outward emotion as possible because they think it may miff their mojo. Mojo is psychological. Crowd pleasing is part of entertainment. And in case you haven't been reading the headlines about the LPGA Tour on your local business page, the LPGA Tour is in need of some serious entertainers that can both play golf and play up a crowd. Christina Kim can do that.
I am fairly certain that Kim's style brought out some of the best of Michelle Wie. For as much as the angle about Wie's parents being banned from clubhouses and team meetings is overblown, Christina Kim's influence on Michelle is clearly positive. It helped her become more expressive and appreciative of the nationalistic adulation going on around her. If this event turns out to be the springboard for Wie's personal career--as I suggest great caution about predicting that--then no one will remember the kind of influence that Kim and Wie's other compatriots had on her lifting an enormous burden off of her shoulders. 3-0-1. And some of that came because of the positive emotion coming out of her friend.
Should any player be jacked up when 6 down in a match? Probably not, but a comeback has to start somewhere. Tiger jumped around several US Amateur venues when he made his match play comebacks during his six year run in the US Junior and US Amateur events. Fist pumps, shouting, cheering to pump himself up. And we laud him as such a competitor even if the fist pumps are seemingly equally balanced out with f-bombs. If it is ok for him to do it, it's ok for Christina Kim to do it.
Kim reminds me a lot of JJ Redick. In my time at Maryland, I booed that guy more than anyone I have ever booed. 17,000 of my fellow Maryland students and I chanted "F*%$ you, JJ!" at him several times when he made the trip to College Park. We hated that guy. Why? Because he was so smug and he knew he was good. But, even worse, we hate (and still hate) him because he was damn good. Christina is damn good. She went 3-1-0. It's not like she didn't back up the celebrations by losing. She won.
And to the victor goes the spoils.