Happy New Year, Rory and Caroline!


Golf and Tennis-Caroline Says Yes to Rory


So, as we learned today, Rory McIlroy’s Christmas list worked out pretty well, considerably better than most other years, I would think. The question was popped in Sydney, and that word is dynamic enough to suggest that someone should hit it back, and who better than a star tennis player, specifically Caroline Wozniacki. Better than white smoke at the Vatican, we got the tag to his tweet – “She said yes!”

rory It’s a common thing for people in sports to get together, but the golf/tennis connection isn’t the most usual. In one sense, they have much in common, and in another, they are distinctly differing personalities, as are the people who play them. Apparently, Rory and Caroline have been off and on a bit over the past months, but to that I’ll say the same thing – so are the two games for those who play them.

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I have heard golf and tennis described as resembling classical music and jazz – one is studied quietly and prepared over several moments, sometimes several minutes until the marshals start penalizing people. The other, with fine motor control being equally trained in, honed and sustained, it all comes out in a burst of serve, directly into the space where another player is standing, at least if you’ve done it right. That is followed by a volley of trained improvisation.

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One game uses a small ball that is dimpled for longer and truer flight. The idea is for everyone to stay away from it, because it’s dense and travels fast. It can do you in. The other ball is a little larger, a little fuzzy, but at the speed it goes for the top pros, who cares? The person it can hit is standing a very short distance away, and it comes as suddenly as a gunshot. I know – I’ve stood on the other side and been strafed by a fine tennis player.

Rory says that he doesn’t mind when we (the royal we) talk about his golf, because he figures we don’t know that much about it anyway, But to talk about his personal life gets to him. I thought he’d be used to that by now, but oh well.

rory 2 A golfer who doesn’t want you in his personal life will generally make a well-crafted public statement after some inane question in an interview.  A tennis player, in the tradition of McEnroe and Serena, will tear you apart from one end to the other. That makes sense. A golfer watches his shot through its entire life, usually reacting in silence. A tennis player emits an enormous burst of vocal “chi” then prepares to do it again in a second or two. I wonder if that plays into the way golfers and tennis players fight.

A golfer who feels intruded upon doesn’t have the luxury of exploding or insulting a third party on the course, especially a tournament official. Tennis players, however, can play a lightning quick game of tennis while focusing a laser eye on the line, then all but obliterate the guy in the chair who called it wrong.

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A tennis player has endorsements, just as golfers do, but on the court, what isn’t about tennis is about looking sexy. Maybe golfers have tried to do that, too, but we probably haven’t noticed due to the constant wail of fashion police sirens. Needless to say, the LPGA has made much more progress on this than the men’s tour.

Golfers generally pace themselves, emotionally and physically, as they have to stretch out their craft over the space of four days, trying to be at their best on the fourth. Tennis players get it all done in one afternoon, and a short one if they can pull it off. Then they can look forward to doing it again a couple of days later.

I don’t know, Rory, it all makes for a marriage of opposites, but then a lot of times, those are the best. All right, I know – none of my business – Happy New Year, you two.

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