Will Sports Gambling Bring Fan Interference?

Here at the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic, players are slowly beginning to realize the economic benefits of sports gambling may come with a downside.

While they aren't ranting like Randall Mell did in his piece for GolfChannel.com, they are sharing the same concern.

With legalized gambling, there promises to be a billion new reasons for fans to root against a player, just as there will be a billion new reasons to root for a player.

Thomas had a right to be annoyed at the Honda Classic. Golf isn’t like the NBA. A fan screaming in a player’s backswing is different than a fan screaming at a player on the free throw line. A golf fan can control the outcome of an event a lot easier than an NBA fan can.

Nobody’s paying to see Joe Blowhard dictate who wins. But that’s the thing about legalized gambling. It’s a pretty good bet we’ll see more Joe Blowhards coming into the sport. And I’ll wager one of them costs a PGA Tour player a chance to win.

Will Gray talked to some veteran players who see potential issues. Ernie Els sees pushback when a player lets a fan down, while Jimmy Walker pointed to the intimacy and quiet of golf.

“Golf is so much more intimate, player to fan base, than any other sport. Tennis may be the only other one where it’s so quiet and the fans can get so close,” Walker said. “I think that’s the big deal, and that’s what people have to realize when they come out here, is that you can stand 5 feet from the best players in the world. You can’t do that at a football game. It’s hard to do that at a basketball game because it’s so loud, nobody can hear all that. So I just think we need to police it a little better.”