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Golf’s Shocking Fortnight

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Greetings from The Booth!

If you’re a golf fan, can you remember a crazier 2 weeks that the sport has gone through than the period between the PGA Championship and the Charles Schwab Challenge? The arrest of world number-one Scottie Scheffler at the PGA stunned the golf world. We all know the details by now: Scheffler got caught up in an unrelated auto accident on his way to Valhalla Golf Club in the early hours of the second round. In what is now described as a misunderstanding, Scheffler drove around a traffic stop and was apprehended at the golf course and taken to jail. The charges have since been dismissed, but that incident overshadowed Xander Shauffele’s first career major victory.

More importantly, the Scheffler incident reinforced our perception that golfers (and athletes in general) are machines, insulated from real life. Perhaps riding the adrenaline of his arrest, and having to scramble back to Valhalla to make his second-round tee time, Scheffler shot an incredible 66 and was very much in contention heading into the weekend. Understandably, Scottie crashed to earth Saturday with a 73, and was all but out of the tournament. He rebounded on Sunday, and despite all that he went through, finished in the top 10.

The following week, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the PGA Tour and the sports world were hit with a gut-punch with the death of Grayson Murray. Murray, 30, a two-time winner on the Tour, withdrew after his Friday round, and took his own life. Murray, who bounced around between the Korn Ferry and PGA Tour since turning pro in 2015, had a history of battling alcohol and depression, and admitted that he often drank during tournament weeks before getting sober last year.

Of all the major sports, golf may be the loneliest. Even though there are caddies and swing coaches, the pressure of winning and making money relies solely on the golfer. Yes, there are certain Tour pros who hang around with each other, but that is probably an exception. The life of a PGA Tour player is a lonely one, filled with airports and hotels, and for many, lots of time away from family. These players are not “golf machines.” Issues like depression and alcohol abuse are very real on Tour.

The bigger picture is that we need to connect with those around us. COVID made us more isolated, to the point that we don’t know what’s happening in the life of a co-worker, client, or the person next to us in the golf cart. Instead of quoting lines from Caddyshack for 4 hours, maybe we should take time to inquire about our golf partner’s family and find out what’s happening in their life.

Simply, let’s be kinder to one another. Maybe that’s all Grayson Murray needed last Friday to save his life.

And that’s my view…from the Booth.

RW

 

 

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