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Hasn't This Ritual About Run Its Course?

The PGA Tour puts an American flag atop a flagstick now and then, thus requiring said flag to never touch the ground. So to show their appreciation for the men and women serving our country, members of the military are enlisted to save the flag from touching the ground, players and caddies stop to shake their hands and gallery hearts skip beats.

During Saturday's Northern Trust Open third round, this fine young American walked on Riviera's 10th green a couple of times in four inch heels. Eventually, someone figured out that wasn't such a good idea, but the image of her in stockings was equally...awkward.

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Reader Comments (47)

A ritual to show appreciation for the men and women serving our country should never run its course.
"A ritual to show appreciation for the men and women serving our country should never run its course. "

It shouldn't... but if you saw the inmitigated gall of the Taylor Made Golf Co. commercial today using the "troops" with face paint to pimp their drivers you might say to yourself, "when is enough, enough?"
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
Tough issue. Is it pandering? Yes? Is any reason to honor the troops a waste of time? No. Should they have been stupid enough to allow someone in heels to walk on the green? No. Could this be planned better and executed better in a more meaningful way? Yes.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike U (LA, CA)
It is pandering or downright oportunistic unless on of the primary charities or sponsors is military oriented.

Questio: is it ever the third hole or one not shown on TV?
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
It's a violation of the U.S. flag code (a voluntary code, but still a violation) to use the flag for advertising or non-patriotic purposes. That's in the eye of the beholder, but we seem to have that here.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell
Our country is rife with cheap-gesture patriotism. This is certainly more meaningful than slapping a ribbon sticker on the back of your vehicle.Which doesn't mean I think it is the best solution, just that it is nowhere near as inappropriate as many other gestures.

As for the advertising that piggybacks on patriotism or the troops - unless the advertiser is directly funding real benefits and/or programs for veterans - it should not be allowed.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTed Ray's Pipe
Has it run its course? Whoever the volunteer is that let her out there in high heels or barefoot has run his course and should be fired. She should have been told ahead of time about proper footwear and if she showed up that way she should have been turned away.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWingedfoot97
Its fine. Remember, the folks that show up on site don't necessarily see it each and every week on TV. Seems pretty harmless, and @ Ted Ray, seems to me the military charities are a huge beneficiary of the PGA Tour's giving. Ease up guys.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
The best way to thank our soldiers is to bring them home. These feel good about ourselves gestures are empty headed.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Nice work fellow posters.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
If the display of our national flag bothers you, crack a history book and get a better understanding of the meaning and the pride some of us have in seeing it displayed.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHackinator
Put me in the category of it was a really cool gesture when they first did it and now it feels like cynical staging.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
As a former military person, if I was there and in uniform, I would have relieved the soldier of her detail. With her shoes off, she is considered to be out of uniform, which is a no-no, especially in public. I would have posted her off the green in full uniform, and have her receive honors from the public there with her pumps on. If another member of the military was there, and didn't relieve her, they should have been reprimanded. The uniform of the United States must be respected at all times and unseemly displays like this should be avoided.

Staff Sergeant Damian W. Smith
U.S. Air Force
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
I love how it is absolutely impossible to have a rational discussion in this country about the troops or the flag, with certain people acting as if its a contest as to who loves the troops or the flag more, and anyone that doesn't drop to their knees and give every person in the military oral must be a secret hater of the US.

It's a stupid flag and this is nothing more than shameful pandering and advertising wrapped up in faux patriotism.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfin Dolphin
I have no problem with any reminder that we have a volunteer military that defends America.

I have no problem with the ''flag hole'', and it was unfortunate that this soldier was not brought proper footwear, when the problem became evident. I am pretty sure they sell shoes in LA.

But with a Marine nephew in Afghanistan in harms way daily, it was simply said, that we best honor these men and women by bringing them home instead of this 10 year old political and economic war with no end, and no result in sight. 3 months after we leave, it will be as if we were never there. I have A BIL who survived several years in the Green Zone in Iraq, and these wars are politics with lives lost daily, nothing more. The stories he has are a sad testament to billions of dollars and thousands of lives wasted.

So let us continue to wave the flag at tournaments to remind us that there are American lives we need to respect, remember ,and work for their return.

Any use of the flag for profit is wrong, and that goes for any politician who plays the ''patriot card''.

We have been handed a BS line for over 20 years in the far East. Enough.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@ Smitty The Flag is more important than the lady's shoes. Common sense has to be applied at some point. I respect the military's so called "code of uniform" but she made a battlefield decision and it didn't hurt anything. Anyone that tries to reprimand this lady should bethe one reprimanded. She was taking care of THE FLAG, first and foremost. No harm, no foul. Everyone should just chill.

USA, USA, USA, heels or no heels!
I hope these flags are made in a sweatshop in China or Vietnam
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfin Dolphin
Just remember Mr Dolfin, you can make your crass remarks because of what that flag stands for, freedom.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHackinator
"I love how it is absolutely impossible to have a rational discussion in this country about the troops or the flag"
followed by
"It's a stupid flag"

Very rational
02.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenternon profit winner
Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore,
It's already overcrowded, from your stupid little war
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
@ The Pro from Dover:

Yes, you are correct, insofar as the flag is concerned. However, as a military member, you give up some liberties when you gain the privilege of wearing this nation's uniform. One is expected to maintain military discipline as well as proper military bearing and behavior. Hence, no deviation for being "out of uniform," no PDA (public displays of affection), and a lack of military bearing by, in this case, an appalling lack of judgment and professionalism. We are compelled by the UCMJ to behave according to standards that are higher than civilians. So such "mundane" things that are allowed in civilian life such as fraternization, adultery, and conduct unbecoming are court-martial offenses. If it were me, I wouldn't have reprimanded her. Like I said, I would have relieved her and counseled her regarding her obligations to her uniform and service. I would, however, reprimand others who possibly saw this display and did nothing to correct it. Next to the flag, the uniform and our image are the most important public relations icons that we
have. The military is one of our most respected institutions in this country. We should exercise extreme prejudice is guarding our image.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
What tlavin said! The best way to honor the troops is to never send them away for anything but an existential threat to the US. The best way to ensure that is to have an ironclad, inescapable draft, so that Muffy and Brandon and Chip and Wheeler will be fighting right next to Bubba and Jose and Antwan and Immaculate. It's not the display of the Stars and Stripes, Hackinator. That still moves me after all these years, when it is done properly. I was at Arlington one year the day before Memorial Day as soldiers were placing a flag at every grave. I'll never forget it. That was a ritual. When I fly the flag from my front porch, that is a ritual, too. Albeit more than a little less profound than Arlington anytime. But the use of the American flag on a flagstick on a golf course. Really? That is not a ritual. Dietrich Bonhoeffer got it right in a slightly different but not altogether unrelated context: Cheap grace is what we do best, and it is getting old. If you'd rather get closer to the ground than Bonhoeffer, listen to John Prine's song. It's not hard to find; in fact it's right down there.

And what Sgt. Smith said, too! Barefoot? Tending the flag? In uniform? Thank you for your service, sir.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
@ BrianS - If you read my post with attention to detail you'll notice what I said about advertising was in a separate paragraph/thought. It was NOT about the Tour's charity giving or about the flag ceremony. The comment about advertisers wrapping themselves in the flag/patriotism/troops was following-up on an earlier post in this thread (by Bobby D about the Taylor Made ad) about a commercial - not about Tour charitable contributions to charity.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTed Ray's Pipe
"Its fine."

no it's are an errand boy ...sent by grocery clerks
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Hackinator, thanks for the trite cliche, but I can make those remarks because I'm a human being and I want to. It has nothing to do with any flag or freedom or whatever other generic cliche you wish to use.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfin Dolphin
Insofar as the military tending U.S. Flag pins, I look at it as most in the military would: It is a privilege to render honors toward the flag and properly secure it during active play. Members who are chosen for such details are normally picked because they have been exemplary in their duties and, as such, allowed a holiday from their normal duties. Lord knows we aren't in the service for the money, medals, or the glory (unless you are SSgt. Clint Romesha). One of the satisfactions of service are such moments away from our duty station where we can stand out and be recognized by our fellow citizens. I look at this pin-tending as a modified version of a military parade. Besides, I know I would like to spend a day inside the ropes and get to meet and shake Phil Mickelson's hand . . .
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
Smitty, tlavin, KLG, and all
She was wearing 4 inch high heels, walking on the green, caddies and anyone else who knows what's up were appalled--My question to Smitty is when did high heels become a part of this military uniform? I have seen 1 inch block heeled pumps but not these...
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterS.D.
A draft? When has a draft ever prevented more war from happening? If anything it encourages more war because there are more people to send off to be used as cannon fodder.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfin Dolphin
@ S.D:

The shoes that you are referring to with the block heels are women's oxfords. Pumps were in use when I was on active duty, which was the mid-1980s.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
Golfin Dolphin, re-read my second sentence. If I was being too subtle, here it is: If Jenna and Not-Jenna, their legion of cousins and boarding school chums, along with Chelsea and Megan (assuming they were all 18-22 at the time) had had to fight the most recent charlie foxtrot, it would not have happened. Quite simple, really. The 1%, for lack of a better term, will not allow their children to come home through Dover. That's just not how it's done now. Another example of cheap grace. For them.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I just want to make it clear that I wouldn't have reprimanded the female soldier in question. First of all, she probably wasn't properly briefed by her superiors before her detail. Then, she probably wasn't told by the military officer in charge at the venue that she wouldn't be able to properly discharge her duties in the shoes she was wearing. She was probably told to wear her Dress Blues and be spit-and-polish for the occasion. She was also probably a non-golfer and was unfamiliar with proper golf courtesy. None of this is her fault. However, she should have recognized that taking off her shoes was not an option and ask to be properly relieved. My problem is that she was on the tenth hole, on national TV, and that no one at the command post at the venue saw this and relieved of her post. That person should have been reprimanded. An officer recognizes that accidents happen. That is fine. Allowing accidents to continue on national TV is not, however.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
What does golf have to do with the military?
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBuffett
You might be right in some nonexistent fantasy world where politicians and government officials don't use their power to protect and benefit themselves. But in the real world, as long as we have a government and that government has power, it will continue to send kids that are not their own into other countries to "defend freedom".
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfin Dolphin
I respect the military. But sorry, my reverence is reserved for those who put themselves in harm's way. It is a volunteer force and those folks get paid, receive benefits and opportunities commensurate with the job. If you're getting shot at I'll give up my seat and buy you a beer. But IMHO, the sappy patriotism for anyone in uniform has become tiresome. Flags on the course feel like a recruiting ploy, not genuine appreciation.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
Interested to see the response here (as I'm sure Geoff is too).

I agree with Geoff, time to end this charade. The NFL uses its faux patriotism, and now the PGA Tour has concocted this plan to show how patriotic it is. Sports, and of all things golf, are an escape from the crying shame of things in life such as war. While I respect any and all veterans of this country, I don't deem it necessary they be trumpeted by the Tour or a network during golf coverage.

It has to be somewhat odd for the players to be essentially forced into turning off their spotlight cameras of the course for a minute and actually shake the service person's hand. This isn't a bad thing for them to do, but it is somewhat humorous to see Tiger "come back to Earth" when they have to do such required rituals.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
In 1945, 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed on Iwo Jima in a little over a month. On Okinawa from April through June, another 12,000 Marines and Navy guys were killed. The number maimed or wounded for the two battles. was around 100,000. The numbers from the Battle of the Bulge that ended in Jan. of 1945 were even more terrible: 19,000 dead, another 100,000 wounded. How many tournaments the following summer trotted out servicemen and women to pulled the American flag stunt? Zero, and that with Hogan, Snead, Jack Fleck, Lloyd Mangrum and many others actively serving. None are in the militmary today, they are engaged in "feeding their families." Military members showed up at tournaments in the old days, but they weren't folded into the action this way. Total deaths for the War on Terror: 6.500 over a 12-year period. So you have 38.000 killed in the space of six months vs. 6,500 killed in 12 years. Perhaps the numbers do not matter. But to me, these events should offer a way for military members and fans to escape from the heavy reminders of war, not fold them into the action whenever possible. That is massively politically incorrect, but I do wish we could carry on with Churchill's classy stoicism rather than the near hysteria that's resulted from the conflict in the Middle East.
02.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor
While there is disagreement here on its usage in PGA Tour events, everyone seems to agree that the American flag is first and foremost a military symbol. This is an American discussion and I'm not American, but I can't help to find that somewhat unsettling.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Smitty (who was around for the Gulbis incident IIRC) said:

We are compelled by the UCMJ to behave according to standards that are higher than civilians. So such "mundane" things that are allowed in civilian life such as fraternization, adultery, and conduct unbecoming are court-martial offenses.
_ _ _

Thanks for the laugh
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNRH
Tell you what chaps ... the only thing on her mind is whether or not her stockings are going to ladder!

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