You’ve heard it. It comes a millisecond after the crack of the driver likely cackled out by Golf Guy. He’s wearing a white belt and golf shoes. He looks around for a fist bump because, “You da man” isn’t about the golfer, it’s about Golf Guy. Fans hustle down the fairway to get away from the words lingering heavy in the air like a fart in a spacesuit.

“The man” started off as a phrase to describe an important military authority, usually a person with power whom most others respect. Edgar Allen Poe used the term in the mid 19th Century in “The Man that was Used Up.” George Battey did as well in 70,000 Miles on a Submarine Destroyer, published 1919.

It crept into sports writing in the late 1940’s when Stan Musial was dubbed “The Man” by Brooklyn Dodgers fans, as recorded by St. Louis Dispatch reporter Bob Broeg. It migrated into the jazz community in the 50’s with George Mandel’s Flee Angry Strangers and 1959’s Jazz Lexicon when Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis were called “the man,” respectively.

There was a brief dalliance with a derivative during the 70’s when “the man” was used to describe an oppressive system or person whose rules you had to abide for which you couldn’t avoid.
By the early 80’s, it was common in Black American Art, like John Edgar Wideman’s Damballah and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, where it regained the meaning as a well-respected or powerful person, but the verb was dropped and the pronunciation changed from “the” to “da.”
“You da man” appeared in sports writing in 1983 when Sports Illustrated quoted Jim Larranaga telling one of his players “O, you da man” after he made two free throws towards the end of the game.

Ironically, at the end of Reagan’s America, when Black American culture was a powerful voice moving into popular culture, it invaded golf; the sport most associated with the white upper class. It became so ubiquitous that Payne Stewart complained to the Chicago Sun Times, “I have heard, ‘you da man’ all day. I got sick of it.” In 1990, The Chicago Sun Times wrote of Tom Watson at the last Western Open held at Butler National Country Club, “Everywhere Watson walked… the gallery hailed him with greetings ranging from ‘you’re a legend’ and ‘you’re the king’ to the newly popular ‘you the man.’”

I’d like to say it’s gone out of style, but alas, it is just mixed in with other phrases of equal infamy like, “get in the hole,” and “babba booey!” Remember when “mashed potatoes” felt fresh? “Dilly! Dilly!” is there now.

After the 2018 US Open, I never wanted to hear someone yell after a shot ever again. But… and this is a big but, if you do yell, it better be funny.

First, veer away from anything Golf Guy would do, he’s just trying to be cool, and that’s the problem. Anything yelled out needs to be for the benefit of the gallery.

Simply yelling players’ names is vociferous. They hear it all the time. My friend, Drew who works for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has a unique perspective on touring pros. “It’s silly,” he said, “they are just people doing an unconventional day job.” Further, yelling instruction is a no-no.

In no way will a touring pro with a caddy on the bag think Golf Guy has the wisdom of five Mic Ultras. I only have a lifetime of experience. I should listen to him.

There is a natural human reaction to the proximity to players. Encouragement is great- I see you “focus baby, you alight” guy- but superfluous.

It’s best to show off the self-effacing wit of the golf community. Repurpose TV or movies, “Is there a stewardess on that thing?” or “By the beard of Old Tom Morris!” Play on their brands. Instead of “Kooooch” think “Grey Goose for everyone!” Or perhaps deadpan something so British that despite yelling to hundreds around you, it comes across as utterly understated, “Useful…”

When in doubt, be “the man” and err on the side of silence. Unless you have a Scottish accent. Anything with a Scottish accent plays.