The Aristocrat!

Awe-inspiring 3-woods. Day-drinking Ohioans. Hall of Fame indignation. Behold the trials and tribulations of Colin Montgomerie

I thought I knew Monty. Everyone thinks they know Monty. It’s all out there: the natural pomposity, the well-honed (literal and figurative) rabbit ears, the stiff, cocksure gait. He’s a Hall of Famer, one of the best ball-strikers of all time, American Ryder Cup enemy and lover of custard. Yet when I approached his group that Thursday morning, it was immediately clear that I barely knew the half of it.

The U.S. Senior Open rolled into my backyard last summer at Scioto Country Club, offering a prime opportunity to knock a few firsts from my golf to-do list: watch the seniors compete; attend a USGA Championship; sport a fancy media credential (ahh, the spoils afforded the co-founder of an emerging international golf- media conglomerate!). The most indelible first, though, came from witnessing golf’s version of the bad guy from Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot. 

I love being at a golf tournament—walking the course, following interesting players, watching a score get built. I could care less about the leaderboard; I’m all about the shotmaking, people-watching and the glorious unintended comedy that stems from the interactions among players and fans. Within this context, Monty—always resplendent and grandiose—shines the brightest. His performance in Columbus— and make no mistake, it was a fucking performance—is one I won’t soon forget. For Monty, an errant cough or movement in the gallery was a deeply felt tragedy. He hammed up every reaction, was truly afflicted by the slightest infraction. Like an actor never breaking character, Monty suffered resolutely, and was awe-inspiring in the breadth and depth of his craft. Of his many scenes, two stood out:

Saturday morning, fifth green…

Some deep background activity captured Monty’s attention prior to a 5-foot par putt. And I mean deep. Like 15 yards off the green, up a hill in a concession area. 

He spent probably 45 seconds with his hand up in the air, marveling at the gall of the common folk who dare make sound while enjoying their meat and mead. Incredulous that he couldn’t quiet the Ohioans who imbibe before noon, he finally stepped over his putt and of course missed it. Tapping in for bogey, he violently snatched the ball out of the hole and petulantly marched off the green, glaring at the concession area, dumbfounded by the grave injustice befallen him.

Monday afternoon, sixth green…

There was a gentleman in the stands behind the green providing fantastic commentary of the action. It was an outpouring of an internal monologue too important to stay bottled up. Being a Monday finish that was light on patrons and marshals, the monologue traveled. So, as Jay Haas left a long, uphill birdie putt short, our man exclaimed, “Ohhh, that’s gonna be WELL short!” Again, not malicious, not really meant to be heard by anybody. Except it was heard by everybody. Monty heard it loudest. The grand man just stood there agog, staring up at the guy and shaking his head. It was a perfect look of amazement, contempt and disappointment. It’s the exact gaze I imagine the British gave their American subjects just before the Revolution.

Monty’s theatrics and piercing 3-woods towered above it all that week, higher than the enormity of Mike McCoy’s chill, higher even than Kenny Perry’s hat perched comically atop his dome. Monty, regaled in imperial polo and pompously astride his high horse, was worth the ticket price alone.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Phil Landes is better known as Big Randy from the No Laying Up collective. Despite his strong opinions, we’re told he is a gentle giant.