Monday, August 24, 2009

Daly on Golf - commentary

While browsing the bargain book table of a local bookstore I spotted the name John Daly dominating the dust jacket of a book. I'm not much interested in golf. I've only tried it twice in my life, once in Hawaii and once at Holiday Island, Arkansas.

However, I am curious about the character John Daly, so I bought the book for $5.98 and headed home. Sadly, it seems I had overlooked the real title in small letters at the bottom: "Golfing My Own Damn Way” and a sub title; "How To Take Eight or Ten Strokes Off Your Game." What I thought to be a biography turned out to be instructions on playing golf, all be it from a real pro.

The miser that I am, I figured I'd better read the book just in case there was something in it worth $5.98 to a non golfer. It didn't take long for Daly's renown irreverence to brighten the pages and I was again reminded of a nephew who had graduated from the famous Iowa Writer's Workshop telling me that "there are no boring subjects, just boring writers." I wasn't much interested in golf, but the way Daly wrote about it kept pulling me through the book. Of course Daly didn't write it, but his ghost writer, Glenn Wagner, captured well the Daly persona.

The chapter titles give the reader a sense of Daly’s jocular attitude toward golf: Before You Rip it, You Gotta Grip It, Let Your Belly Lead Your Hands, Bring Enough Stick to the Dance, Cut Out the Fat, Listen to Your Right Foot, and Leave the Big Dog in Your Trunk.

If you are still with me, you would probably like some Daly gems. “How come the PGA Tour won’t let us wear Bermuda shorts in tournament play? What’s that, you can’t think of a single good reason? Neither can I.”

Chapter 27 was a short one: “List of Books of Any Kind That I have Read Cover to Cover Since ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ in High School.” There were none listed so don’t use Daly for a role model if you want your kid to grow up to be a reader, and since most of our kids won’t make the kind of money Daly makes playing golf, you probably want them to grow up reading. Actually, the chapter title implies we should read books cover to cover, which is not necessarily true. Books are often there to be mined for gems that will amuse or improve us and don’t need to be read cover to cover.

The book includes a list of his five favorite golf courses. At the top of that list is the Lions Den Golf Club on Dardanelle, Arkansas. This was the course he played on as a kid growing up. He now owns the course and has redesigned it to his own tastes so I suppose it should be his favorite. Once he gets beyond his bias for that course, he next lists The Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland. If you want to know the next four, you’ll have to read the book.

If you want to be Daly’s favorite fan, don’t take your cameras or cell phones when you go to cheer him on at tournaments. It seems somebody’s phone went off as he was starting his back swing at the Honda Classic in 2007. He “jammed on the brakes” to stop the swing and separated a couple of ribs and a shoulder. He now has an attitude about such devices. So do I! In my former life as a pastor, I hated it when people showed up at weddings with their little cameras and no sense of propriety. It never led to a dislocation of my ribs or shoulder, but it certainly dislocated my otherwise happy temperament a few times.

Daly claims he does like sharing the course with amateurs and so enjoys playing the pro-am tournaments. He sees them as practice rounds and a good place to meet people. “I can’t tell you the number of business deals I’ve gotten into from meeting people at pro-ams. … But mainly what I’ve always respected about the pro-ams is that they raise a ton of money for a lot of good causes.”

One place you won’t get to meet Daly is on a morning jog. “To tell you the truth, the only time I’d ever recommend that you run is if somebody’s chasing you.” You’d have a better chance of meeting him on the interstate enjoying his “Magic Bus.” He devotes a chapter to this $1.7 million rolling mansion sporting a 515 horse power Twin Turbo engine with a six–speed transmission. It has a 206 gallon fuel tank and can go 1,400 miles between fill ups. He says he does most of the driving and has been pulled over a few times. It usually costs him an autograph or two.

It was an interesting read and now, at least when my friends start discussing their golf games, I’ll understand a little bit of the lingo. It was worth the $5.98 which was $10 off the asking price.

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