Moxie. Some say you either got or you don’t. In golf, moxie is right out in front with every step a pro takes. Even with handicappers, its pretty easy tell who’s got it. So what is it, and why is it important? Can it be developed?
If I had to choose one word to describe moxie it would be confidence. It shows in the way one walks, stands, talks, swings a golf club, and how one reacts to good shots and not so good shots. Moxie transcends age, gender, race, religion, political party, physical condition, and national origin. It can fluctuate through life, starts in kindergarten and lasts into old age.
Can you play good golf without moxie? Sure. I don’t think Nicklaus had it. Nor do I think Snead had it. And Hogan, well, it could go either way, but anyone who came back from the kind of accident he survived and then won, what, seven more majors, must have had tremendous moxie although you wouldn’t know it by his taciturn manner during a tournament. Moxie is often characteristic of some extra ingredient besides talent. I think Tiger did have moxie in his heyday, but has since experienced some leakage. He is no longer able to intimidate opponents as he once did as they watched him climb up the leaderboard on Sundays. Moxie does get others to pay more attention to you, as the awareness of it in others causes one to wonder if those others have something more than what they have. That little bubble of doubt is enough to make a difference when highly talented pros are vying for glory and huge sums of money.
But moxie is not exactly a static trait that stays constant throughout life. I had it as a kid, lost it in middle age, and then regained it as I fought off cancer in my current older age (although it hasn’t really transferred much to my golf game!). The key is awareness. You have to honestly assess and reassess your levels of moxie as life proceeds. This takes a sharp, insightful, and relatively calm mind to penetrate any fog that invariably gets in the way of one’s inner vision. That’ll take moments of reflection and meditation to allow the mind to settle, like the precipitate in a test tube sinking to the bottom leaving clear liquid above.
It’s not easy, though, to regain moxie after you’ve lost it. It takes, well, moxie–always embedded somewhere in the brain cells waiting for you to rediscover this valued trait. In fact, that’s the usual journey of moxie. You need to figure out how to grab the brass ring as the “painted ponies go up and down.” Other traits, besides confidence, to look for when making that self-analysis are as follows: swagger, determination, guts, spirit, no hesitation, fast play, vigor, verve, pep, energetic, courage, resilient, perseverance, cool under pressure, can smile when down, can get pissed off but rebound quickly after disasters.
Here are some of players, caddies, announcers, past and present, I believe have displayed a significant degree of moxie in their careers. It’s by no means a complete list. Let me know of anyone I missed.
Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr, Darren Clarke, Lexi Thompson, Mel Reid, Charley Hull, Nellie Korda, David Feherty, Dotty Pepper, Ryan O’Neal, Matt Wolff, Dustin Johnson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Trevino. Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen, Tony Lema, Bobby Jones, Babe Zaharias, Nick Faldo, Sei Re Pak, Young Tom Morris, Tom Watson, Jon Rahm, Seve, Arnie, Beatriz Recari, Tiger, Payne Stewart, Stevie Williams, Butch Harmon, Brooks Koepka, Bryson, Inbee Park, Phil, Bernhard, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Ben Hogan, Viktor Hovland, Peter Alliss, and Paul Azinger.
Congrats to Viktor Hovland who won that elusive second PGA victory at the Mayakoba. The 23 year old Norwegian had to use all his moxie on this rain soaked course in Mexico to shoot 20 under and win by one shot.
Veteran Angela Stanford held off Inbee Park and other much younger opponents to win the Volunteers of America Open in her native Texas.
This week, it’s the LPGA Women’s Open in Houston, the crown jewell of women’s majors.
Rest in Peace Peter Alliss, an accomplished Ryder Cup player and colorful commentator, died at his home in the UK this past weekend. The World Golf Hall of Famer was 89.
Cristie Kerr and her caddie were injured in a “serious” golf cart accident on Friday morning, according to Golfweek. Kerr, who shot 1-over-par 72 in the first round of the Volunteers of America Classic, withdrew from the tournament and she and her caddie went to the hospital.
Wishing Cristie, who has won 20 times on the LPGA tour, and her caddie a speedy and complete recovery.