Armchair Golf Pro: My Ryder Cup Thank You


Image by Pablo Herrero via Flickr

The Armchair Golf Pro’s post this week is about the Ryder Cup and the many things for which it made me thankful.

First, I’m thankful for the intensity. The dull moments in life pass by unnoticed, and there are too many of them. We feel most alive and most in touch with life when we are pushing the boundaries. When there is something at stake. The enormous pressure on both teams was palpable, and it pulled me in. These guys were giving it everything they had, and it all mattered.

There’s something about big events – the majors, the World Series, the Super Bowl – that sets the stage for the ultimate test of character. Some rise to the challenge, some fall.

In the end it’s not even about who won or lost, but how gloriously they fought. That’s when they’re pushing the edge. That’s when they are most alive. And because the Americans were my team, they were doing it for me. Representing me. Trying to defend the Cup and bring it back home for me. So I had some skin in the game. I was right there with them, celebrating the great shots and agonizing over the misses. For a while, their intensity helped me live life a little larger.

I’m also thankful for the spirit of competition. Despite the intensity level, and perhaps a bit of boisterousness by the European fans, everybody was friendly. There are no fights or overturned cars on fire in the parking lot. That’s one of the great things about golf. We can compete ferociously on the course, and then have a beer together afterward. I love that, and hope it always stays that way.

I’m thankful for Zach Johnson‘s wife. Before the Monday match she told him “It’s just golf. Go play and have fun.” And he listened.

Sometimes we over-complicate things. We search for answers in deep, dark places and think there’s some mystery we just haven’t quite grasped yet that will solve all problems. In reality, the simple stuff can be the most powerful. I have to remind myself of that.

I’m thankful to Hunter Mahan for chili-dipping his chip on the 17th. You’re my hero. It helps to know that even the best of the best aren’t perfect all the time. So I don’t know why I should expect perfection from my own game.

Last year Charles Barkley made millions of golfers feel a whole lot better about their game because he helped them realize that no matter how bad their swing was, there was somebody else worse.  I’ve chili-dipped before. I’m sure I’ll chili-dip again. But I doubt I’ll have anywhere near the pressure on me that Hunter did. Just knowing that even the best can make mistakes will help me be a little easier on myself the next time it happens to me. Which it will.

I’m thankful Tiger Woods wasn’t the media focus. He could have been a major distraction, but he let his golf do the talking. Everything else is his business. As it should be. ‘Nuff said.

I’m thankful to Phil for stepping up and trying to be a leader. Next time I hope he leads from the front.

I’m thankful for Ricky Fowler’s heroic finish on the last day, closing with 4 straight birdies to tie the match. I have my own major competition coming up at the end of the month. There will be a lot of pressure, and Ricky gave me the image I want to take with me to the tee.

He showed me that it can be done, and how to do it: Never give up. Never too late. Anything is possible. Complete focus on what must be done. Total commitment to his decisions and strategy. A positive attitude. An unbending will to succeed. Confidence to carry the day. Courage to see it through to the end. Tenacious determination. The heart of a champion.

These are the musings of the Armchair Golf Pro. Each week I write about lessons I learn while watching golf on the TV. If you’d like to read more Armchair Golf Pro posts, just do a “category” search.

I invite you to leave a comment or post your own reflections on the Ryder Cup.

2 Responses

  1. Richard Burt says:

    Beautifully written article, I felt your joy and felt your pain. A life message to all golfers. I am a 27 handicapper and happy golf like I expect to break course records, absolutely ridiculous.

  2. Monica Brown says:

    Love your comments! I watched the press conference and I was so glad that Hunter didn’t try to be stoic and put on a game face. He was devestated, choked up, and crying and I thought Phil was classy to gently pull the microphone away from him when the reporter was asking some inane question to Hunter and he broke down. This is the first Ryder Cup I felt they were a team. At the press conference Stuart Cink stood up for Hunter and the players reiterated they are a team and they let Hunter down, too. I loved that. Thanks for the armchair reflections. I found myself nodding along in agreement and glad for your analysis. I thought Monday was one of the best Ryder matches ever. Keep the comments coming, Eric. We do read them out here in cyber land. Hugs, Moniker