Wie vs Giuliani – Response Shows Golf’s True Voice

Giuliani's "joke" was not representative of modern-day golf, as the response confirms

Michelle Wie
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rudy Giuliani’s “Panties” comment was wholly unacceptable, but his archaic attitude is not representative of modern-day golf, as the response confirms.

Wie vs Giuliani – Response Shows Golf's True Voice

The inappropriate comment, the supposed “joke,” made at the end of last week by former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani relating to Michelle Wie’s underwear was hugely disappointing to read about.

It was depressing that anyone would think it acceptable, let alone funny, to degrade an elite sportsperson to that level – As Wie pointed out, did he not think it most impressive that she shot 64 that day: the best score in the mixed field? Did he even remember that? Probably not…

Also, it was disappointing as a potential blow to golf’s reputation.

Despite huge strides, there remains a perception within the wider public that golf is a game for rich white men with prehistoric views.

Giuliani’s comment provides irrefutable evidence that those prehistoric views still exist.

But it should be remembered that golf didn’t make the “joke” – It was made by a 76-year-old man who is no stranger to making controversial comment on a variety of topics, speaking on a highly controversial podcast.

In reality, all involved in the running of our sport have been striving to eradicate misogynistic attitudes for decades and great progress has been made.

Wie’s excellent and firm response to Giuliani’s “joke” made it clear that such outdated attitudes have no place in golf, or anywhere for that matter.

Her response represented the voice of golf, rather than Giuliani’s crude sexist ‘anecdote.’

The USGA quite rightly, quickly came out in support of Wie’s response saying, "Sexism has no place in golf or life." The LPGA were also swift in their backing for Wie.

Numerous articles and social media posts from influential sources within golf (including this one) have spoken in support of Wie: A Major champion and one of the game’s most talented players, she is an important figure and spokesperson for the sport.

Wie’s strong reaction, and the level of backing for it, shows how far golf has come.

We can take a positive from this unpleasant episode, and that should be it.

Nonetheless, it’s disappointing for golf, just how much attention this singular incident has attracted.

Golf remains a popular scapegoat and that’s unfortunate when so many positive stories about women’s golf seem to fly under the radar of the wider media.

As a couple of examples: In recent years, The R&A has led the way with their Women in Golf Charter, designed to grow global participation in golf amongst women and girls.

In the pro game, just two weeks ago, the Ladies European Tour announced a new schedule for 2021 with 27 events in nine countries, offering a record €19 million in prize money – a great step in the right direction.

There are increasing numbers of mixed events from elite level down to club level, while governing bodies have merged and continue to merge to ensure equality and inclusivity.

A crass ‘joke’ from an old man who is not involved in the administration of golf will not set this continuing progress back, even if those outside the game will use it as ammunition to perpetuate the outdated myth of golf’s old-fashioned attitudes.

Michelle Wie quickly and effectively put Giuliani in his place on behalf of golf and we all thank her for that. We must continue to support all those doing everything they can to make golf equal and inclusive – a sport for all.

Let’s keep moving forward.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?