The pace of posting has slowed down here of late, there’s no denying it. Full time employment will have that effect. It does sort of chew up the hours. Guess that’s why it’s called a job.
But the golf world hasn’t exactly been showering us with great story lines, either. When the weather during the tournament schedule so far is one of the biggest topics of conversation you know that’s a good indicator that there ain’t shit going on.
But that all changed when Rory McIlroy walked off the course at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.
Thank you, Jesus!
As a general rule, events in the sports world generate divided reactions. It’s a good trade, no it’s a bad trade. One man’s close call is another man’s crime against humanity. One side’s great play is the other side’s defensive lapse. One fan base relishes a moment of glory while another nurses a scar in its collective memory.
But every once in a while people unite in their reactions. And this is one of those times.
Unless you’re hurt, or unless the rain has turned horizontal and you’ve lost feeling in your hands, you simply don’t walk off the course. Everybody has bad days, but you’re supposed to suck it up, finish the round and pay your bets like a man. We’ve likely all known players who had a habit for quitting when things didn’t go their way, and their reputations suffered for it. There was a former member of my club who did it and he was roundly criticized behind his back for doing so. On another occasion I was playing in a team match against the Stanford University Men’s Club when I noticed a path through the underbrush near one of the tee boxes on the front nine. I asked one of our hosts where it led and he told me that this was known as So-and-so’s trail, since this particular Mr. So-and-so was known for taking this shortcut back to the clubhouse when the round hadn’t started off to his liking. Let’s just say that this information was conveyed in a tone that didn’t indicate that Mr So-and-so was viewed as being particularly intrepid for having blazed this trail.
There is also more than a whiff of spoiled ingratitude to the whole episode. We all get it that performance in this game is a hugely relative matter and that a shot that might delight a novice is something to work on at the range for an expert. When we say that the pros are playing a different game we are acknowledging the statistical reality that horrific for them doesn’t even come close to overlapping with average for us. But still, who wouldn’t love to have Rory’s swing and be able, for just one day, or for even one hole, to be able to play as he does, and yet there is he is, sulking off the course, in effect turning his back on the enormous blessing that his talent represents. It makes his quitting seem petulant and immature.
But we’ve all seen this before. Who hasn’t played with a talented young golfer who has a little hissy fit when his approach shot from 120 away doesn’t land in the right part of the green or whose 290 yard drive winds up under a tree? Boo hoo. But Rory isn’t just any golfer. Looming over all of this is the humongous deal he signed with Nike. For an endorsement contract rumored to be in the neighborhood of $200 million dollars, Rory has agreed to stop using the Titleist equipment that he used in his ascent to the top and play with Nike clubs instead. Now on the first tee, Dr. Faustus.