The Case for Rickie Fowler is a guest post by Cassie, author of the blog Bandwagoner’s Guide to Golf. Check out her bio at the bottom of her post.
The Case for Rickie Fowler
Don’t worry, this isn’t just a fangirl piece fawning over an attractive golfer.
Not entirely, at least.
Even after his Masters disaster, I still feel the need to make a case for golf fans to respect Rickie Fowler. He’s the reason I found an interest in golf and as far as I can see, he’s part of the reason that the sport is shifting into a new light. A more flattering, Instagram-filtered light.
Before you judge his fashion (except the high-tops – you have my blessing to judge the hell out of the high-tops) or his hairstyle or his propensity for model girlfriends, learn a little about the kid.
Like these tidbits:
- Thanks to his dad, Fowler has a talent for riding motocross. His father had some success as a rider back in the day and rumor has it, Rickie had the chance to consider a pro career on a bike but chose the golf route instead.
- He has both Native American and Japanese ancestry – his middle name is Yutaka, which is out of left field for someone who only knows Rickie as a California native.
- He not only wears Puma, he helps concept some of the pieces. I refuse to accept his role in the high-tops and joggers fad, but regardless, he wants to be a part of his influence, not just cash in on it.
Rickie Fowler isn’t a major winner (yet) and he isn’t breaking down doors and kicking in windows the way Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are, but he shouldn’t be discounted for what he brings to the table. He’s closed on Tour six times, including the unofficial fifth major (the Players Championship) and he’s been in contention more often than people want to remember. He’s tied for second place in two majors (U.S. Open and Open Championship) and managed to place in the top five of the other two – so it’s not like he’s never shown up. But he adds value to the sport beyond being a leaderboard placeholder.
Unpopular opinion: winning isn’t the only thing it takes to be an influential golfer. It’s definitely important, but Rickie has proven that he can play, even if he isn’t a force to be reckoned with week-over-week. Trophies are great but if you’re forgotten about by the next week, what have you done for the sport?
Nothing. You become a name on a tournament Wikipedia page, and we all know how easy those are to edit.
This guy, on the other hand, is brightening things up on the course – even if we don’t like it. His vibrant colors, flat-brimmed hats and recently, his weird pants and (terrible) high-top Puma golf shoes are a hot topic of conversation. We don’t have to love the look, but just by merit of talking about it, we’ve been influenced.
He’s also a social media addict – he Snapchats at least once a day and in most cases, he’s on a boat or a
plane or eating something ridiculous – he, Spieth, Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas spent spring break in the Bahamas and every golf news outlet downloaded Snapchat just to be a part of the story. He likes to call out Twitter trolls and have witty banter with other young pros like Thomas when the occasion arises. He’s offering us a glimpse into the pro golf lifestyle while still managing to seem approachable.
When I was at the Players Championship in 2015, not only was I lucky enough to watch him win (and I may or may not have cried some tears of joy when it happened) but I got to see the players interact with fans.
Let me tell you, Rory McIlroy is NOT the person you want your kids to look up to, because God forbid the man have a bad round. I was there Saturday and Sunday and both days, Rory wouldn’t even acknowledge the group of kids who were fenced off like cattle for the explicit intent of being closer to the players. Didn’t look at them, didn’t stop to sign autographs, didn’t wave at them and acted like he didn’t hear their whiny little voices yelling after him. Even Tiger waved at the kids, and he’s a notorious ass to fans.
But what does that have to do with Rickie Fowler? After his rally to force a playoff, he swung in to sign his card and regardless of the TPC Sawgrass handlers rushing him along to wait out his fate in the clubhouse, he signed and talked as much as he could. After accepting the trophy, Fowler stayed until after dark to sign more autographs for the fans who waited out the ceremony to congratulate him. More pros like Rickie and fewer egos like Rory’s would make spending my rent check on tournament tickets a little more reasonable.
Even though I’m not thrilled by some of the new fans he’s bringing to the sport (the ones who think racing golf carts through the back nine is the real reason to spend Sunday on the course), the fact remains that he’s bringing rare demographics to the sport. Women think he’s hot (*raises hand* I’ve got your proof right here). Millennials dig the smirk and the bad-assery. Jocks – the ones you wouldn’t see near a driving range – appreciate his BMX background and his off-the-course antics with jet skis and the like. Kids love his style and flair. The parents of those kids love how driven he is and that he hasn’t yet found his way into a drug/divorce/cheating scandal.
Moral of the story: Rickie Fowler is a breath of fresh air in a stale, old man’s game.
I’m not campaigning for you to slide him to the top of your favorites list – I have enough competition in that realm. I’m just saying – give the kid a chance.
Cassie is the author of the golf blog Bandwagoner’s Guide to Golf, covering her unceremonious jump into the world of birdies and bogeys. She’s a dog mom to a rescue named Ryder (yes, after the Cup) who spends her free time binging Netflix, watching golf or slicing away on a driving range. Follow her on Twitter for occasional tournament rants and more-than-occasional dog pictures: @golfbandwagoner