Most of us have been there. I have. I mean where John was that moment he told the Golf Channel he was done with golf. The game gets under your skin sometimes and then the rash starts. And the more you scratch, the worse it gets. You go to the range and you have a pretty good session. Then you go again and you think you’ve got something figured out. Then you chip and you go, “Wait a minute here. I think I really found something.” Then on to the putting green and you drop everything you see. Then to the course…I said, then to the course…How the *#&/@k can I shoot 92 after practice sessions like those? “God Bless my mother,” in the immortal words of Charles Barkley. “I can’t compete,”JD continued to lament in that same GC interview.
Actually, I was there yesterday, after following a respectable drive with a six-iron to the 15th green that would’ve lost a wrestling match with a flea. I could’ve just as well swung a bowl of oatmeal. The real clincher was the realization that I started playing this game 50 years ago almost to the day, and I can still hit a six-iron like pudding. I know. I know. Settle down, as Jon Stewart might say. I’m the Mindful Golfer, after all. I’m supposed to be equanimous and balanced and centered and able to live and let go of the moment and welcome in the next moment all refreshed and clean slated and forgiving of all that the golf gods have thrown at me. Well, yesterday, I was about as mindful and forgiving as Tommy Bolt shanking a nine-iron (Google him you young’uns out there). My back was aching. I’d scored three pars the whole day up to that point, with more bogeys than Tiger had girlfriends. I had had it. I was done. Maybe finished with golf forever. Right?
Well, I thought so until I got home and turned on the Golf Channel looking for some instructional show. On the drive home, I’d come up with a new theory, and you see all I needed to do was strengthen my grip a bit so my right forearm could fold over my left at impact and…You know the script, I’m sure. Golf is not unlike heroin. I’ve never taken the stuff but, as a mental health counselor for most of my life, I’ve worked with many addicts. And believe me, golf can be an addiction. It’s not the worst addiction, mind you, but once it enters the bloodstream, it’s hard to get it out. And it definitely can drive you crazy.
So, yes, in this regard, we do know what it’s like “Being John Daly.” There are dues to pay before you play this game, much higher than anything at Pebble Beach. You have to be willing to risk failure, because you surely will fail any number of times during a round of golf. And you have to be willing to get comfortable with failure, something most people are not trained for. In this culture, kids are raised to win and taught well how to do it. They are not taught how to fail, and when they experience failure, they are ill-equipped to handle it, get up, and try again, learning more to take them to the next level.
My favorite quote around this is by Napoleon Hill: “Every adversity has within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
The genius, and secret, of golf is in the dirt, as Hogan said. You swing, you fail, you swing again, continuing, hopefully, to learn more. You swing the next time, and, Hey, I made the green! Overall, though, you commit to the game, itself. No, I’m not quitting golf. It takes some courage to commit to this game. Coming face to face with failure always takes courage. But the rewards are huge playing a game that is so rewarding when successes begin to outpace the failures. And when the body can no longer do all the twisting and turning, there is still watching the pros, reading about its history and present dramas, and reflecting on life through the game.
So hang in there, John Daly, at least as far as the game of golf is concerned. As for competitive golf, we love you JD, but maybe you should get yourself and your game in shape, keep selling pants to pay the bills, and wait it out for the Champions Tour. You’re taking up a spot with all the exemptions, and, frankly, you’re starting to embarrass yourself.