The most impassioned team event in golf without question is the Ryder Cup. But the second-most impassioned team event might be the police officers versus firefighters tournament in Salem, Mass.
Unlike the Ryder Cup, however, the goal of the Salem police vs. Salem fire department match is NOT to take home the cup. It's the losing side that must accept the "Loser's Trophy" and display it at its department headquarters, which usually ends up being the Salem Police Station since the firefighters win this event more often than Team Europe succeeds in the Ryder Cup.
However, this year's police-vs.-fire tournament brought out gamesmanship that hasn't been seen in the Ryder Cup since the War By the Shore at Kiawah in 1991. Tom Dalton of the Salem News has the details:
However, there is a twist to this year’s tournament, which took place Monday. This year, the golf was followed by controversy, possibly scandal.
It surfaced during the post-tournament party at The Tin Whistle, a local watering hole. A retired and wily cop, George Canney, thought he spotted a “ringer” among the Salem firefighters, a man he had seen often at The Meadow, Peabody’s municipal golf course. It turned out to be a Peabody firefighter.
This Peabody firefighter somehow wound up on the Salem firefighters’ golf team, the cops allege. That wouldn’t have been such a problem, except he was a pretty good golfer.
When the ruse was exposed at the cookout, all hell broke loose.
“This is unacceptable,” boomed police Lt. James Walker, a mild-mannered duffer of unimpeachable character. Other cops joined in the chorus of denunciations. A folding chair or two might have been tossed.
It was, of course, all in good fun. But the controversy will live on for years to come, and no doubt become one more club with which police will try to beat their friendly foes, the firefighters.
We think Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros would approve.