Wednesday, January 07, 2009

John Daly - golf's great enigma

It is difficult for me to comment or pass judgment on the trials and tribulations of Mr. John Daly. I guess it’s easy to propagate the “off with his head scenario,” or perhaps to pen a gentle, but non-complimentary article. But to set forth a piece with an inclination of still having high hopes for Mr. Daly is a most demanding task. Nevertheless an attempt must be made.

You see John and I have a timeworn and distant connection that always makes me want to root for John no matter how nonsensical his actions may become. It is not a close personal relationship through which we became confidants and drinking buddies (whoops!). Rather it was somewhat of a business association. In the late 1990’s I served as the golf professional at Wicked Stick Golf Links in Myrtle Beach, SC. At the time this was Daly’s first and only signature golf course. The course has been popular since it opened in October 1995. The concept for the course came about shortly after Daly surged to national prominence with his 1991 PGA Championship victory. The course was built and opened in October of 1995. Talk about perfect timing. If you remember your major championship history, that is just a scant three months after Daly surprised all the golf “experts” with his victory in the British Open after a playoff with Constantino Rocca.

Our paths crossed a couple of times for a brief moment shortly after Wicked Stick opened. The most memorable was a telephone call. John had four buddies who were in Myrtle Beach playing a little golf and desired to play Wicked Stick. John called personally to arrange for a tee time – no secretary, no agent, just John calling. That’s John. Eventually one point of conversation led to another and soon twenty-five minutes had passed. That’s John, friendly and amicable.

There are, of course, countless other small incidents to demonstrate John’s great sense of humanity just like there are countless well-publicized incidents to demonstrate his senselessness. It’s all part of carrying his humanity to the extreme in either direction.

Big John can still play the game as evidenced by his recent final round 62 in the Hong Kong Open. Big John is still a big fan draw unfortunately it’s in a NASCAR sort of way where fans come hoping to see massive wrecks. Big John will always have a big heart. Big John will always do his own thing. He’s a maverick in a world golf clones. Every generation of professional golf seems to have one or two. When can thank the golf gods that John came along when he did.

So I’m still rooting for John, but unfortunately I feel one of two situations will occur. Either Big John will get his act together and return to a form from which he show us his great talent or he’ll be found dead in a gutter behind a Hooters within twenty-four months. It’s a shame, but…

And one final note: John, call me again. We need to continue that conversation from ten years ago.

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