Coping with the curse of The Course

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LAWRENCE MONEY has endured the many trials of the malignant antics of the golf course. But, he can take solace when the pros muck up too:

MEMO Phil Mickelson: Welcome to our world.

The day I realised that pro golfers were, after all, actually human was when I sat next to a pro’s wife during lunch at Royal Melbourne. “Pro golfers are like astronauts,” I remarked naively. “They seem to have ice in their veins. Nothing seems to rile them.”

Mrs Pro smiled sweetly. “You should see him when he gets home!”

Wow. Really? Ever since then I have tried to channel that epiphany on the days when The Course becomes a living thing that seems intent on destroying me.

All golfers know the story. The Course lures your ball behind a tree, or positions a branch to deflect a beautiful drive, so the ball ends up in the lake. Or The Course perhaps throws some weird sort of spell over your trusty “when all else fails” five-iron so the ball slews off the face of the club and bounces on to the next fairway, obliging you to make the Walk of Shame.

They are the days when Mrs Pro’s words are helpful. Yes, I am feeling like tossing my bag in the lagoon, or chopping a big chunk out of the green, but even the best in the world have days like this.

So, thank you Phil Mickelson for more proof. Good ol’ Phil, the man with velvet swing, this week coughed up an apology for his scandalous antics on the 13th green on the third day of the US open last weekend.

Cocking a snook at rule 14.5, Phil chased his putt as it rolled away from the cup and belted the ball back before it stopped moving. It took him several days to fire off a text of apology to the golfing world.

Even pros have an off day. Phil Mickelson this week. Pic: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Even pros have an off day. Phil Mickelson this week. Pic: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down,” said Phil. “My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

I’m thinking of texting back: “Phil, maaaate, don’t apologise. We mortal hackers, we whose skills fall so far short, feel just as much frustration when the golf gods turn feral. Your fury, Phil, is our consolation. Welcome to our world.”

The Mickelson outburst now goes in to my library of consolations. Such as the time big Johnny Daly carded an 18 on the 6th hole at Bay Hill in 1998. Old Johnny just kept trying to belt the pill 300 metres over water, only to see each one go down to sleep with the fishes.

“I’ve been working on my patience all year,” lamented Johnny, “and I guess after 32 holes my patience ran out.”

We hear you Johnny. And we’re with you Phil. Seeing you guys stuff up may annoy the hell out of you – but it sure as hell makes us feel better.

mm

Author: Lawrence Money

Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria’s best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age — and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines — before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.

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