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SNYDER: Perhaps taking up golf really will suit him to a tee

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011


The world's best golfers have convened in greater Washington, causing me to reflect on a personal mystery inside an enigma. Surely there must be others in the same position, wondering why they haven't joined the legions on the links.

I don't golf.

Not that it's been a definitive, conscious decision. I just haven't done it yet. But I want to try ... I think.

Part of me is tired of being the odd man out, who can't relate to friends and family talking about their chips, putts and drives. Part of me is envious of the way they lose themselves for hours on those beautiful golf courses.

But part of me is scared, too. Scared of a game that's obviously maddening. Scared of its addictive nature and time demands. Scared of whom might get hurt — self included — if I ever start playing.

Thankfully, former pro golfer David Feherty is just the man to help me and other golfophobes.

A CBS Sports commentator, Golf Magazine columnist and New York Times best-selling author, Feherty was in town this week to promote his latest venture, a self-titled variety show on the Golf Channel that premieres Monday. He performed a live version of "Feherty" at American University's Greenberg Theatre, featuring interviews with U.S. Open entrants Fred Funk and Rickie Fowler, as well as video clips from the upcoming shows.

Feherty had the audience rolling in laughter — and sometimes cringing in apprehension — as he stretched the limit for acceptable humor, including topics such as Hitler, amputee veterans and sheep's private parts. But his quick wit, zany personality, irreverence and raw honesty have made him one of golf's most recognizable broadcasters. The thick Irish accent doesn't hurt, either.

After the performance, I asked him to imagine I held a gun to his wife's head and would kill her unless he convinced me to not give golf a try.

He asked if I'd kill his first wife, instead. Then he said if we were in Texas, he'd shoot me first. But he finally gave it his best.

"If you look at most of the people who play golf at any given time, they look like they're not really enjoying themselves," he said. "The game drives them out of their minds. It costs them money. It drives them up the wall with frustration."

He was struggling because his heart wasn't in it. I flipped the script and said now I'd shoot Anita unless he convinced me to pick up the sport. That was a tap-in putt.

"There's always one shot that hooks you and makes you want to hit another shot," he said. "You can't throw a 60-yard touchdown pass, or dunk over a 6-foot-8 guard or hit a 480-foot home run. But in golf, you can make a 70-foot putt. You can hit a 250-yard drive.

"There'll be one shot where it clicks. And the ball comes off the club face perfectly and it hangs in the sky for longer than you think it is, and you're on the follow-through and you can't help but feel this wave of goose bumps come over you.

"That's why you'll want to play and do it again. You'll think, '[Darn] that felt good.' All the other [shoddy] shots you've hit will become irrelevant. Just thinking about it gave me goose bumps."

It gave me chills.

I asked what advice he'd offer someone starting out. He said getting the right clubs and making sure you're comfortable in your swing are the most important things.

"The game is way simpler than most coaches make it," he said. "It's just not that hard of a game to become reasonable at. It's a very hard game to become very good at — no question about that. But to get to a reasonable level where you can enjoy yourself playing, you only have to be able to do two or three things."

Laughing at yourself would be one, which isn't a problem for Feherty. His show allows you find the humor in golf, him and his interview subjects, including Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller and Charles Barkley.

And if Barkley can get out there, as terrible as he looks on the golf course, there's no excuse for anyone else.

So I'm taking lessons. But I'm all ears if anyone else wants to make the case for, or against, pursuing this sport.

I'm going to try it.

I think.

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