Long time PGA Tour professional Steve Flesch was recently caught in an audio recording admitting to episodes of committing violence against golf clubs!
Despite awareness campaigns and official PGA Tour policy aimed at curbing the effects and occurrences of golfer-on-club violence, Flesch’s own words paint a picture of a player who lives on a razor-sharp edge of playing with out-of-control emotions and demonstrate that such assaults remain a significant problem in golf.
What Flesch said
Flesch seemed to be almost bragging when he told his host, “I was very discreet when I knew that one of the clubs wasn’t going to make it to the next shot. I was very discreet usually in how it would meet its demise.”
When pressed for details of this outrageous behavior, Flesch indulged Bacon, saying, “I would kind of lean (the club) on the bag and step on it, or I’d put it in the bag and just push on it until it broke in the bag.”
Shocking behavior that’s been amplified by Flesch’s nonchalant attitude towards his past transgressions.
Later in the interview, Flesch revealed that he has never once been fined for his conduct by the PGA Tour for any of his on-course behavior and seemed to suggest that his son, Griffin, has proudly taken up Steve’s hot temper on the golf course, continuing this pattern of vicious and malignant behavior against golf clubs for another generation.
I was very discreet usually in how it would meet its demise. I would kind of lean it on the bag and step on it, or I’d put it in the bag and just push on it until it broke in the bag.
What Flesch’s critics are saying
When reached for their reaction, the chief club makers and Tour reps at Srixon/Cleveland declined to comment about Flesch on the record. However, a Srixon staffer that spoke to OneBeardedGolfer.com on the condition of anonymity stated emphatically that Flesch’s claim of a “dozen or so” clubs damaged or broken by Flesch at PGA Tour events was “low.”
That same staffer recalled that during he’d personally had to replace more than 50 clubs for Flesch that met their demise at his hands and feet. He even revealed that there was a revolt, of sorts, at the company’s Huntington Beach, CA, headquarters, as firm’s top club makers refused to produce any new prototypes for a man so keen on destroying their instruments of such fine craftsmanship.
Flesch’s former colleagues at NBC Universal didn’t hold back in their criticism of the wily lefty either after listening to the podcast.
Said Charlie Rymer, “Steve Flesch doesn’t have the temperament to be an elite golfer on the PGA Tour Champions. Seriously, you don’t hear about Bernhard Langer winning all these tournaments by finishing with only 10 clubs in his bag. Breaking clubs is something kids at (University of) Georgia do, and I don’t think America wants that on the Champions Tour.”
Even the ever affable David Feherty quipped, “Am I surprised (at the revelations)? No, Steve Flesch, the golfer, has all the self-control of my overweight beagle in the kitchen with an EZ Reach grabber on Thanksgiving afternoon.”
What Flesch’s defenders and apologists are saying
Not everyone is convinced that Flesch’s confessed conduct is all that egregious or out-of-line with what occurs every week on the PGA Tour. While Fox Sports colleagues Joe Buck and Paul Azinger have so far remained mum on the controversy, several of Flesch’s colleagues have rushed to his defense.
Steve Pate, fresh off of a 9th Place finish at the PGA Tour Champions’ SAS Championships defended Flesch. Said Pate, “I don’t get what the [expletive deleted] you [expletive deleted] are so upset about. Maybe you guys in the media just haven’t been around enough pro golfers. This [expletive deleted] happens every [expletive deleted] day of every [expletive deleted] week.”
Henrik Stenson, himself the subject of scrutiny for accusations of taking his on course frustrations out on his own golf clubs, insists that Flesch’s comments are much more likely a sheen of bravado and good storytelling than an indication that Flesch has a real problem.
Stenson espoused, in an unusually thick Swedish accent, “I mean, so he broke a few clubs. Honestly, what the [bleep] are we doing here? Honestly?”
“It’s not like Fox Sports is going to pull him from the air for any of this. If this was a problem, why are we just now hearing about it when Steve is preparing to return to competition on the PGA Tour Champions circuit?”
Incidents of Violence against Golf Clubs
This revelation of golfer-on-club violence isn’t necessarily news to those in the industry or those who have followed Flesch’s career closely.
Despite his claim that he was never formally disciplined or fined for on-course behavior, there were whispers of an “incident” involving a driver and the trunk of a pine tree at the 1998 BellSouth Classic.
In another incident, alligators became innocent bystanders who were sent swimming for cover at Harbour Town in 2000 when Flesch’s putter met its demise in the shallow lagoons at the MCI Classic when Flesch “tossed” his putter to his caddie, only to “miss” by 10 feet to the right and 3 feet high.
Golfer-on-Club Violence problem
A recent survey of PGA Tour professionals’ clubs indicate that the problem goes largely unreported. While the Tour has taken active steps to address issues such as slow play and lackluster fields at non-major tournaments, the number of club violence incidents reported to Tour headquarters has remain constant, drawing only a few official investigations and reprimands.
As recently as 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 1 out of every 14 clubs on Tour reported being a victim of violence at the hands of their PGA Tour player.
On a typical Tuesday or Wednesday at a PGA Tour Stop, tour reps of the major manufacturers are having to construct and fit no less than two dozen clubs per day, on average. At the larger field events, such as the major tournaments or the Players or Memorial Tournament, the numbers are even higher.
The PGA Tour and Tour Champions officials have yet to make an official comment on Flesch’s statement. There’s been no indication as of yet whether he will face any sort of discipline or suspension once he’s officially eligible for the Champions Tour in 2017.
A small group of 4-irons and hybrids have staged a protest outside the Fox Sports studios, demanding that Flesch be fired from his analyst position and vowing that Flesch will have to complete his competitive career without their support.
A Srixon spokesperson confirmed that the company is “reviewing” their relationship and sponsorship their longtime pitch man. And a California man has started an online petition seeking to have Flesch banned from the Champions Tour before his career there has even begun.
Flesch has remained in the public eye since his podcast interview aired, taking to Twitter, lambasting the nominees in this year’s Presidential election and lamenting the struggles of his beloved Cincinnati Bengals, while remaining mum on the growing public outrage of his club-breaking past.
Stay tuned to OneBeardedGolfer.com for more breaking news as new details become available on this story.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is a spoof. This entire story, except for the The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon podcast, was fictitious. It probably shouldn’t have been written and certainly shouldn’t be read.
Steve Flesch is a good guy and a friend to OneBeardedGolfer.com. And the podcast interview was very entertaining, and my entree to The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon podcast, which I thoroughly enjoy and heartily recommend.