Golf fan's cheer has fans extremely teed off

Mike Royko

August 06, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

A FASCINATING new figure has appeared on the American sports scene, but the sports reporters have failed to tell us anything about him.

He has become vaguely familiar to millions of golf fans, yet we know nothing about him. Not even his name.

If you watch golf tournaments on television, you haven't seen him, but you have heard his voice.

One of the golfers -- usually someone in or near the lead -- will be preparing to hit his tee shot. There will be absolute silence.

The golfer will swing. And at almost the precise instant the club-head meets the ball, a loud, braying voice is heard: "You duh maaaaaan!" (Translated, that means: "You are the man.")

Depending on the importance of the tournament, that sound -- "You duh maaaaaan!" -- can enter tens of thousands or millions of households.

It's not a pleasant noise. It's what I imagine a cow in heat might sound like. And there is no defense against it, unless you are alert and use your TV zapper during all tee shots.

Other fans also make noise. But they wait a moment or two to be sure that the ball isn't sailing toward a pond or over a fence before they emit only the traditional "ooohs" or "aaaahs."

But not this person. He doesn't care where the ball is going. It could dribble only five feet, or rocket into the gallery and strike a spectator a fatal blow to the brow, and he would still howl: "You duh maaaaaan!"

He's even gone international, turning up on the final day of the British Open. When he let fly with his first "You duh maaaaaan," the very dignified and understated English announcer moaned softly and, with obvious disgust, muttered: "He must have come over here on one of the inexpensive flights."

What surprises me is that some enterprising golf reporter hasn't tracked him down and written a story about who he is and why he does what he does.

Here we have a person who is apparently devoting considerable effort and money to traveling from golf tournament to golf tournament for the sole purpose of standing near a tee area so the nation's golf fans can hear him cry out: "You duh maaaaaan!"

I for one would be interested in knowing when he decided to make this his major recreational activity. Or possibly even his life's work.

Did inspiration just strike him one day, causing him to spring from his parlor chair and say: "Listen to them. Nothing but 'ooohs' and 'aaahs,' and an occasional 'nice shot.' But nobody is saying, 'You duh maaaaaan!' This country needs somebody to shout, 'You duh maaaaaan!' And if nobody else will do it, I shall. It is my destiny."

Maybe he has a wife and children who sit alone on weekends. And when people ask where he is, they say: "Daddy has gone to a golf course to yell: 'You duh maaaaaan!' for TV." Or maybe they're too embarrassed to admit it. Wouldn't you be? Imagine the embarrassment of someone saying, "There's that you-duh-man jerk again," and you having to admit: "That's no jerk; that's my father."

He could also be asked to explain how he developed his incredible sense of timing. Athletes talk about hand-eye coordination. But this man has remarkable eye-tongue coordination. He never yells, "You duh maaaaaan," during the golfer's backswing, which could get him tossed off the course. (Or if there was true justice in our society, dropped into one of the water hazards with lead weights on his ankles.)

Nor does he wait until the golfer is in his follow-through, and the ball is well on its way. If he did that, his "You duh maaaaaan!" could be drowned out by the gallery's cheers. He'd be just another voice in the crowd.

No, he seems to inhale during the backswing and lets his voice rip just as club meets ball. Unless it is a God-given talent, it must have taken considerable practice. Possibly hours of playing videos of golf swings. Slow backswings, fast backswings, medium backswings, it doesn't matter. His technique is always perfect. As they say in golf: "He has all the shouts."

If his voice is going to continue coming into our homes by way of the TV, we have a right to know something about him. He could be influencing young children, tomorrow's golfers. They might grow up believing that instead of "fore," they should shout, "You duh maaaaaan!"

So I would hope that the sports reporters who cover golf tournaments will track him down and ask who he is, how he came to this avocation, and whether he hopes it will lead to bigger things. Possibly a commercial endorsement?

Or if they don't want to do that, maybe they can just look him up and tear out his tongue.

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