Patrick Reed: Exploring the demonization of golf’s most hated

Admit it: You don’t want any of the Patrick Reed drama to end. But neither does he.

It’s good business for Patrick Reed and endless entertainment for the masses.

Reed has transformed into one of the most polarizing figures in sports and has united golf fans far and wide into a brutally hateful collective.

In the collective’s last meeting, Justin Thomas’ playoff victory over Patrick Reed at the Tournament of Champions was widely celebrated and drew one of the best Reed reactions of all time. Thomas outplaying Reed was one factor, but it’s hard not to attest to the latter’s missed putt to the powers of hatred and viewer telekinesis.

All jokes aside, it’s okay to be one of these people. You’ve craved the Reed headlines one after the other ever since his days at Georgia. Golf cheating accusations. Altercations such as caddie vs. fan or Reed vs. cameraman. Ryder Cup fits. Family feuds. Reed’s been the centerpiece for a majority of golf’s most controversial headlines for the past decade. His ascent to one of golf’s most talented and hated has shown no signs of stopping.

And scientifically, it makes sense.

Plenty of buzz follows any Reed development. Humans are naturally inclined to gossip about anything and everything, especially celebrities. A study was published by Social Neuroscience in 2015 on the brain’s reactions to positive and negative gossip in regards to three different groups: oneself, friends, and celebrities.

Negative celebrity gossip seemed to incite an activation in the brain’s caudate nucleus, a reward center that displayed a particular amusement from subjects.

That finding seems like a fairly obvious assessment. We’re all guilty of being captivated by drama involving those with greater social capital. For our brains, any new Reed story is just the gift that keeps on giving. Comparatively speaking, a PGA Tour event isn’t a place that’s drawing much animosity or outward displays of tension seen in other major sports. These are easy narratives to grasp onto, mostly because they’re so rare.

The general sentiment is that the way Patrick Reed treats the game is a disservice. But truthfully, every party involved is winning. Consider why the PGA Tour remained silent on Reed’s cheating allegations. He’s a great business for them, too.

Even more astute, Reed’s capability to shut everything out and consistently challenge golf’s best. Reed sits at No. 7 in the world, and though his overall career may not shine in the same way that some of his top 10 colleagues do, he’s under a completely different microscope.

No, he’s not blameless, most of the drama is self-inflicted in one way or another. But the next time you draft up a 180-character Patrick Reed rant, consider that the target of your rant will likely benefit from it.