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Apr 30

Life Dangerous at Top of Golf

Members of Golf Profession Getting Dinged Left and Right

Golf does not appear to be an inherently dangerous game, but what is dangerous to a golfer may only be an inconvenience for people in many other professions. A stubbed toe, an earache, back pain, a course marshall, or a stop watch can seriously “ding” anyone trying to make a living at golf. Yes, it can come from a million different directions by way of Nature, or it can come from the human race and its machiavellian systems and rules. Outside of alligator and kangaroo attacks, and the like, the assault on those trying to get into the money end of golf are usually quiet and stealthy.

Consider the case of poor Lydia Ko, the present number one in the world. She enters the Texas Shootout, or as I like to put it, the Stacy Lewis Invitational, after being lambasted for nine caddie changes. Not only have we ganged up on a perfectly nice player who finds herself at some crossroads. But, in the week she intends to cement her hold on number one in the world, she gets an eye infection. I’ ve had eye infections, but I don’t remember ever getting out of anything. I still had to do schoolwork, chores, etc. However, I can’t imagine playing that level of golf with a bum eye. In caribou terms, you’d be the weak one the wolves go after. So, Lydia and her 10th caddie withdrew from the Shootout, with the advice to forswear wearing contacts for a while.

Tiger Wood’s struggles have almost become as epic as the unvelievable game he displayed for most of an era. Now, he can count four back surgieries in as many years, the most recent to relieve pain. And what did he do to deserve this plight? He played golf…like a maniac. We can’t envision him becoming a sauntering slow-swinging Sam Sneadish character. Golf wouldn’t be golf without Tiger sending tee shots to the moon, regardless of the route he chooses. His procedure is called an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. I’ll stop right there with the medical knowledge, but I remember those of my parent’s generation laboring under the belief that if you cut into something, it’s an automatic six months to a year before you regain any good part of yourself. Maybe that’s not true anymore, but Tiger is still doomed for another 6 to 12 months. That’s another year not playing, and another four majors under the bridge.

Ian Poulter, once number 5 in the world, had a hurt foot. Now, he’s lost his PGA card, although the PGA commissioner thought it fair to readjust the point system versus medical extensions. Brian Gay, with whom Poulter was in almost direct competition for the card, made the earnings thresshold, but did not amass the points with which to enter the upcoming Lucrative Players Championship.
Golf Simplified logoLexi Thompson got dinged big time. It was a little like getting an acceptance letter from Princeton, then having them call you to say it was sent to the wrong person…but feel free to reapply next year. It’s interesting that the structure of this game is played to rules of a surgical nature that are unfortunately applied in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. Rookie Brian Campbell and Miguel Angel Cabrallo got the first speed-of-play penalty assessed in years at the Zurich last week. Their combined world ranking is somewhere in the 900s, but it doesn’t matter. Did the tour make an example of them, as they did with a young teenage Chinese phenom at the Masters three years ago? Was it a case of “Let’s ding him. He’s not going to win it anyway.”
tiger suspendedYes, it’s a dangerous world out there, and some of the leading golfers of their generation are being bruised before they even reach the age of 30. And then, of course, there are the alligator and kangaroo attacks, of which the former should bring lawsuits against golf course management. I don’t take the clubs out to get eaten by a local course feature. Meanwhile, I’ll still get my taxes done if I get an allergic eye infection, but I won’t play golf. It’s a dangerous game. We just don’t notice because it’s all done in slow motion.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.