I never made it out on a golf course in all of 2007, but I have been playing since 1971. Over the years, I've played in foursomes with hundreds of people, the majority of them strangers, and run into hundreds of others around the golf course or driving ranges in Chicago and LA. Not one has ever triggered my gaydar. A gay friend who is an intense sports fan and I went to several pro tournaments together, but I could never talk him into actually trying to play the game.
Sure, private country clubs would likely tend to discriminate against homosexuals, but 95+% of my rounds have been played at public courses where anybody who pays the greens fee can play. By way of comparison, my playing partners over the years include perhaps two dozen blacks, almost as many Latinos, and more Asians.
Golf isn't much of a team sport, so discrimination by teammates wouldn't be an issue as it is with gays and other sports.
Even stranger, golf doesn't seem particularly macho either. It's non-violent and there's no danger involved. There are some polite, upper class rituals involved in the game that would seem not uncongenial to gays.
So, it could be very informative to understand why golf appeals to some straight men but almost no gay men. But we don't really understand the appeal of golf yet. (I take my best guesses here in this 2005 American Conservative article.)
Since lots of celebrities are golfers and lots of celebrities are gay, for years I've been trying to falsify my hypothesis that gay men almost never find golf appealing by finding a bunch of gay golfing celebrities. But I haven't found any, other than maybe Danny Kaye, the amazingly talented comedian-actor-musician of a half century ago (Michael Richards's Kramer on "Seinfeld" channeled a little of Kaye's shtick), who was an avid golfer and baseball player/fan (he owned the Seattle Mariners). He was married for 47 years, but, at least in the years since his death in 1987, has been subject to rumors of bisexuality.
As you know, one of my favorite tricks is to take a list (The Top 100 Whatevers) and use it to investigate some question that never occurred to the people who created the list. That way, my question doesn't bias the data, which could happen if I made up the list myself. The list might not be particularly good at ranking the Top 100 Whatevers, but it provides a decent source of data unaffected by my preconceptions.
So, here is Golf Digest's 2007 list of "Hollywood's Top 100 Golfers," which lists actors/actresses, but not behind the camera talent. It's ranked in terms of handicap (the lower the better).
Soap opera star Jack Wagner is the only actor with a "plus" handicap (meaning, roughly, that he is expected to break par).
The list reveals what Billy Crudup, the New York actor with the superb diction, is doing besides voice-over commercials and turning down Hollywood roles: he's ranked #3. Recently it became possible to live in Manhattan and play a lot of quality golf with the opening of two super-expensive courses in New Jersey's industrial wastelands just across the Hudson River. Crudup plays to a 4.5 handicap at the new faux-Irish Bayonne Golf Club amidst the docks.
The biggest stars in the Top 20 are probably Dennis Quaid, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Murray, and Hugh Grant.
I'm sure they are missing some people who should be on the list and some who shouldn't be on the list are making up handicaps. Generally, the players who list a handicap to a decimal point actually have played enough to have a handicap, although that might not be, technically, their current handicap. I'm a 16.9, for example (or that's what I was for one glorious week in 1990).
The ones who round it off to a whole number may be just blowing smoke entirely. For example, Sean Connery has dropped to a "22.0," but he definitely is a fanatical golfer. On other hand, while I'd like to believe that lovely Jessica Alba is a "22," it sounds too much like Cameron Diaz's male fantasy character in "There's Something About Mary" who hangs out at the driving range on her days off from healing sick children. (Cameron is a 34 on the list). Jessica has been photographed playing golf with her fiance, the world's luckiest man, but, somehow, I don't think she's quite as dedicated to the game as the old Scotsman.
Among actresses, Alba ranks second following the more plausible Cheryl Ladd (from the original "Charlie's Angels") at 18.
Anyway, this list mentions 92 men in a profession with an above average number of homosexuals, so there is a lot of data to work with. Quite a few of the actors are fairly obscure, like Richard Kind of "Spin City" and "Mad About You" (who is indeed kind -- he helped me look for a club I had lost at Robinson Ranch). But you can look up a lot of information about each one. For example, Kind is married and has three kids.
So, how many of the 92 are rumored to be gay?
There's Tom Cruise (#95). I have no opinion on all the rumors, but he's clearly not a very intense golfer, if somebody that coordinated is only a 32 handicap. And there's young Zac Efron of Disney's "High School Musical," who is #52 at a 14. He gets a lot of crap from the celebrity snarksites who are jealous of his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens (e.g., "he's basically a dancing candy cane come to life"), but, who knows? (Getting totally off topic, here's a picture of her father that you have to see.)
I'm sure there are others on the list, but I think my old hypothesis is supported.
Update: Here's Golf Digest's list of the best 100 golfing singers and musicians. The only scratch golfers are Kenny G and Vince Gill. Bob Dylan is supposedly a decent 17 handicapper, while Neil Young is an 18.6. (When Young's band Buffalo Springfield signed their first contract, Young's last request of Ahmet Ertegun was: "I'm a golfer. Can you help get me in a country club out here?") The list has lots off country singers and lots of black singers and even a black country singer (Charley Pride).
And there's a black gay golfer in Johnny Mathis, who plays to a fine 10.5 handicap at mighty Riviera. I don't think it's all that secret that he's gay.
The only other gay on the list who jumps out at me is Lance Bass, who is in the "New to the Game" category with a 36 (the worst handicap allowed under USGA rules).
I'm sure more expert researchers might find a couple more, but far fewer than in a list of top 100 singers or musicians who don't play golf.
In summary, we have two lists with 185 men on it in two professions, acting and music, that are well know to feature an above average number of gays. If you exclude the men with handicaps over 30 as not very serious golfers, that leaves one obvious gay out of about 160 men, and, likely, several more discrete gays.
But if you took a random list of 160 prominent male musicians and Hollywood actors who aren't golfers, what percentage would be homosexual? Let's say 15%, just for sake of argument. So, at 15%, you'd expect 24 gays out of 160. Right now we've got Johnny Mathis, so we'd need to dig up 23 closet cases off the lists. I don't think that's going to happen.