Golf’s Immodest Apprentice

The biggest story that came out of the Doral Championship a few weeks back (excuse me, Your Donaldness – these days, its official title is “World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral” – The Donald is clearly not into the whole brevity thing) was Rory McIlroy, after dunking an approach shot into the water (I’m convinced that Doral is a gigantic lagoon with golf holes built through it, not the other way around), helicoptering the offending club into the drink. The reactions to the club-toss – which is considered to be a faux pas among most “civilized” golfers – ranged from good-humored commentary regarding his throwing motion to tsk-tsk’s from the game’s protectors to nods of, if not approval, at least acceptance – “Hey, I do that, too!”

Televised temper-tantrums by professionals on the course are not the norm, although it happens. Sometimes a player’s oaths get picked up by on-course microphones. Tiger Woods is notorious for this, although the player who set the standard was Curtis Strange, who was the original “victim” of the Golf Channel’s expanded coverage to early rounds. When told he was being fined again after an opening round use of raw language, Strange bemoaned, “You mean I can’t get away with a “Goddam” on a f*cking THURSDAY?” Sergio Garcia has spit in hole after removing a ball following a three-putt and smashed microphones. Then there was Woody Austin’s meltdown for the ages after leaving a putt woefully short. At least in Woody’s case, the anger is self-directed.

The most infamous professional club-toss specialist was the whimsically monikered Tommy Bolt, whose nickname was “Thunder” and who threw so many clubs that he might have been a candidate for “Tommy John” surgery had the procedure been available in his day. It was Bolt who advised, “Always throw your clubs ahead of you. That way you don’t have to waste energy going back to pick them up.” Bolt also stated that “Golf is a game where guts and blind devotion will always net you absolutely nothing but an ulcer.” I have to believe these two thoughts are related.

Eventually, Bolt realized that many folks in the gallery were expecting such eruptions and started firing clubs as a means of playing to the crowd.

All that said, throwing clubs is not cool, as McIlroy acknowledged after his display (“It wasn’t very role model-ish of me”) . . . although host Donald Trump, whose addiction to the media makes Kim Khardashian seem like Greta Garbo, had a diver retrieve Rory’s dunked 3-iron and returned it to him in front of a fawning media, and then went on to say “what a wonderful display of emotion it was by Rory. Something we can all relate to.”

The second part of that statement is all too true. But there’s nothing “wonderful” about throwing a golf club in anger. It’s childish behavior, not to mention dangerous if the club finds itself striking another player. But then again, The Donald’s bombastic entry into the world of golf has been anything but wonderful. He ordered architect Gil Hanse to essentially blow up Doral’s Blue Monster course and render it virtually unplayable for all but the longest hitters. Trump makes no apologies for this; his opinion is that a “great” golf course should be extremely difficult and reward the game’s longest hitters – in other word, take a hike, Zach Johnson and Jim Furyck.

The iconic Turnberry Resort in Scotland is now in Trump’s hands. One of his first acts was to inform R&A President Peter Dawson that the next time the Open Championship came to Turnberry’s Ailsa course, the tournament would be officially titled “The Trump Turnberry Open Championship.” Dawson was not amused.

Trump’s purchase of Turnberry came on the heels of bailing out of his development in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where he had promised a 400-room resort that would put 6,000 people to work. He did complete the course there – he had a fantastic piece of dunes-swept links land with which to work, and from the parts of the course that I was able to walk, it appears that that it’s eminently playable – although there are options both north (Cruden Bay) and south (Royal Aberdeen) that are likely at least as enjoyable at half the cost. However, neither course has a plaque that reads as follows as the golf heads for the first tee at Trump International:

“Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, was conceived and built by Donald J. Trump, and officially opened on July 10, 2012.

 Encompassing the world’s largest dunes, The Great Dunes of Scotland, Mr. Trump and his architect, Dr. Martin Hawtree, delicately weaved these magnificent golf holes through this unparalleled 600 acre site running along the majestic North Sea.

 The unprecedented end result is, according to many, the greatest golf course anywhere in the world!” (italics mine)

On the one hand, this last statement should surprise absolutely no one, as this is the same man who has proclaimed (in response to queries about running for high office) that he “is the only American who can bring this country together.” At the same time, TIGLS isn’t even the best course in Aberdeenshire, much less the planet.

And we’re not through with The Donald just yet, as his New Jersey Trump National layout will host the 2022 PGA Championship. One can only imagine what’s written on THAT plaque.

Trump

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