GOLFERS are perhaps the most stoic of athletes. They drive, they chip, they putt, they wave to the crowds with all the emotion of America's vice president.

So we should be glad to see the American Ryder Cup team break out of their shells and carry on a raucous celebration after a big shot during a remarkable come-from-behind victory over the underdog Europeans.

Or should we?

Sure, the American team had reason to celebrate. Justin Leonard's 45-foot putt culminated the unlikely comeback. Unfortunately, the party started before the outcome had been decided; Mr. Leonard's opponent still was waiting to make his putt. When the Europeans defeated the Americans in 1987, they waited until after the match to form a conga line.

The Americans elevated golf to a higher level while bringing down the game's etiquette to that of other professional sports. Could barking "Dawgs" on the greens be next?

Pub Date: 9/28/99

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