How golfers respond to interruptions
Not Even the Nicest People Immune
So, a guy walks into a proshop…and it turns out to be Bill Murray, the most beloved amateur golf caricature in the history of cinematic farce – the Caddyshack guy. He’s out at Pebble Beach, an appearance he makes every year, to participate in the pro-am. Murray is a beloved figure there, and is known as one of the nicest guys to be around, whether one is a player or a fan. Take his picture – no problem, unless you don’t let him participate in it. Sneak up on him, and he might get testy and throw your phones off of the second story balcony, which is what he did.
That, however, is not the story. The phone incident ended in an apology and restitution – plus, that confrontation didn’t happen on the golf course. Murray tells another, and better, tale about a moment in which one putt would get him over the cut line. As he lined up the crucial stroke, a voice resounded from the gallery – “Do Carl!” (the Caddyshack guy). If you’ ve never seen it, go rent it, and leave your sense of dignity somewhere else for an hour or two. Of course, if it had been the final round of the Masters, such interruptions would not be so well taken. Murray, for all his antics, loves the game and takes playing it well seriously.
Still, he is Bill Murray, and when the clarion call rang out for him to “do Carl,” resisting it must have been well nigh impossible – at least, it was for Bill Murray. He went through the whole shtick, turned and rolled the putt right into the cup – couldn’t have gone better. He got the crowd satisfaction and the putt. For a fan who needs a little break from ‘final round at the Masters’ tension, Murray’s response was a breath of fresh air, and represented a wonderful way with which to handle an interruption in a game not meant for it.
This week, the New Zealand Open didn’t go off without interruptions, in the form of a 5 point plus earthquake. Lydia Ko, a native New Zealander, a country not unfamiliar with earthquakes, says that she’s never experienced one on the golf course. Of course, the reflex is to run, but one must wonder…where do you run, and how do you run? Ko was on the putting green, concentrating on her prep for the round. I’ll just bet, though, if it were the crucial putt to win a major, that she would have stayed in position over the ball once she’d found the line, rather than give it up to Mother Nature. She’d wait for the ground to stop shaking, hold that stance and roll it in – another impressive response (albeit less funny) to interruptions that mess with your golf game.
I have marveled through my life at how unexpected interruptions can mess with even the most dignified and mature individuals. As a kid, I took a golf outing to Laurelwood Golf Course in Eugene, Oregon, with my father and brother. When dad lined it up on number 7, he had that feeling. He just knew it was going to be the drive of his life – he was sure of it. It was not a good time for his son to speak during another’s backswing. This paragon of calm and warmth, who would look more at home in the House of Lords, was suddenly in a hopping, screaming frenzy more akin to a Three Stooge’s sketch. I’ve never seen the like since.
The poor man experienced other interruptions as well, the most serious on a coastal course in the Pacific Northwest. As I watched him play #9 from the rough of the 8th, where I was ball-hunting, a group of men rushed onto the course and grabbed him, as if he was being arrested. It turned out that my sister, the youngest, had fallen off a horse on the beach and was kicked in the head by the horse behind. At the time, my father was a short chip and putt away from the lowest score he’d ever come away with in his life – but who cared. The nine-iron dropped, the bag fell over and he did a Carl Lewis sprint off the course. Along with Murray and Ko, this was an equally impressive response to an interruption, even though it’s what any good father would do.
I suppose that we can’t live without interruptions, silly or essential, even on the golf course, but I am still awed by those who respond in an exceptional way. “Do Carl” can do us all a world of good, Ko as a model of concentration is a rare thing, and my father? Well, drop over for a round sometime, and I’ll tell you all about it