I love golf in large part because it’s so damned difficult. It frustrates me like nothing else I’ve ever attempted, as my on-the-course language all-too-often sadly attests. Yet when I manage to hit the occasional great shot, it literally gives me an incredible thrill. And I mean it when I say “literally”; even though I’m a decent golfer, I’m so aware of the thousands of things that can go wrong with a golf swing that I have a hard time believing it when I’m actually able to execute a great shot. It might only happen a few times per round, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
I love golfers in general because I respect anyone who is willing to tackle and embrace a stiff challenge. I particularly love pro golfers because I think they exude much more character and integrity than any other class of professional athlete. PGA and LPGA golfers aren’t guaranteed a paycheck; they don’t sign contracts ensuring them millions of dollars for hitting .159 (I’m talkin’ to you, Adam Dunn), repeatedly dropping touchdown passes (hello, Roy Williams) or disappearing in the league championship series (how you doin’, Lebron?). And even though they’re playing for a paycheck, they’ll call penalties on themselves that can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars (such as Webb Simpson did this year, ultimately causing him to miss out on what would have been his first career victory).
When you see pro golfers interviewed, they are invariably modest about themselves and highly complimentary of their opponents. And when they celebrate a sunk putt–if they celebrate at all–it’s usually a simple fist pump. Contrast that with the NFL players who, after sacking a quarterback or catching a touchdown pass, engage in an elaborate series of obnoxious gestures that simultaneously celebrate their personal greatness and insult their momentarily vanquished opponent.
I love Golf Channel because it so consistently and poignantly captures all facets of the drama of this uniquely challenging and rewarding sport. I love their reporters and announcers–such as ex-PGA players like David Feherty, Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and Charlie Rymer and golden-throated Scottish announcers Renton Laidlaw and Dougie Donnelly–all of whom clearly revere the game and come across as be the kind of people you’d love to play a round with and then have a beer with.
Finally, I love this new commercial because I think it captures everything I’ve just described–and more–so beautifully. I even love the background song “Nothing for Granted” (by Brendan James), which provides not only a great melody but a wonderful sense of emotion.
Mark Twain famously described golf as “a good walk spoiled.” I can only assume that Mr. Twain’s cable operator didn’t offer Golf Channel.