Humorist/Golfer Feherty Shines the Light on Golfâ€™s Many Faces
In history and its iconic literature, the fool is an important character, and the term doesnâ€™t mean what the modern word means, In Shakespeare, the fool is more hip, more clever, and shines the light of commentary on all the self-images people are trying to sell. We all have an image weâ€™re peddling. Some of us are just better salesmen than others. David Feherty is our Shakesperian fool. Call him whatever you like, but that simply serves to reveal your chosen self-image. Heâ€™s coming from a more honest place than most, and many of us fear that.
Feherty, a former pro on the European and PGA tours, has suffered horrible times in his own life, and doesnâ€™t use humor to mask it. Heâ€™s fallen to deep dark places for the human soul, and lived to tell about it. Heâ€™s not funny for want of attention, and heâ€™s not funny to be mean-spirited. Itâ€™s how he sees and reflexively responds to the world, and how his inner gears work â€“ canâ€™t be helped. At times, itâ€™s how he gets by.
The commentary says a lot about the spectrum of tradition to modernity in golf. Feherty is right, for example, in saying that â€œThe Masters doesnâ€™t do comedy,â€ and that he feels as though heâ€™s been surgically â€œclenchedâ€ for just that week. Itâ€™s not Feherty thatâ€™s revealed in his rantings about the Masters. Itâ€™s turning the light on a self-absorbed old Southern white aristocracy reenacting a dead myth, an aristocracy that canâ€™t laugh, making them the perfect target for â€œEmperor has no clothesâ€ humor.
Most of Fehertyâ€™s targets join in the humor willingly, although some do not. Descriptions, for example, of Jim Furykâ€™s swing as â€œan octopus falling out of a tree,â€ or â€œa one-armed man wrestling a snake in a phone boothâ€ have become priceless and iconic quips in golfâ€™s pantheon of wits. Another type of Feherty commentary goes to the players themselves, but you donâ€™t see hatred, just light-hearted observation. He holds a special looking glass on Phil Mickelson, observing that â€œsomethingâ€™s wrong with that boy â€“ heâ€™s watching a movie only Phil can see.â€ He paints a picture of Mickelson wearing a football helmet to the age of four to buffer his constant bumping into things, and generally likens him to â€œa drunk chasing a balloon along the edge of a cliff.â€ Wherever overly-serious tradition or conviction is to be found, there will be David Feherty. He is not afraid of sacred figures, neither Nicklaus nor Player, characterizing the latter as being put out because you canâ€™t win a major anymore â€œwith a low flat hook and a Napoleon complex.â€
As an Irishman, alcohol humor can scarcely be absent, despite Fehertyâ€™s past with the subject. After winning the Scottish Open, he woke up on a course 45 minutes away, and had lost the cup, which has never been seen again. He has lived through torturous hallucinations and despair of such a magnitude that his grip on life itself threatened to give way. Â He has been injured while cycling in a collision with a truck. And yet, he is not callous or given to masking his empathy for all manner of people in similar despair or living the life of a victim. As the Don Rickles of the golf world, it is worth remembering that Rickles has been beloved in Hollywood for the same qualities â€“ the rest is commentary â€“ shtick â€“ humor.
Every era and industry needs a â€œfool,â€ in the Shakespearian sense, even if we need to wade through a thousand golf shot metaphors (â€œThat came out of the rough like a dead mouse out of a cornfield.â€). While weâ€™re peddling our self-image, Fehertyâ€™s peddling his â€“ putting playful banter and mostly amusing commentary over all of it â€“ the serious and the mundane.