Jul
29
2009
Thanks again, Tom…and Thomas!
By Stephanie Wei under General

Link: Thanks again, Tom…and Thomas!

I know I haven’t posted enough about Tom Watson’s run at the British Open. So I thought I’d pass along this column Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times. It’s the best I’ve read on the story (and trust me, I’ve read hundreds). Friedman captures everything I tried to here, here, and finally here. Oh yeah, I can’t forget about this epic picture. Of course, it helps that he’s a much, much better writer.

Being 26, I can’t fully appreciate the entirety of Watson’s career nor the whole age thing. But I could (obviously if you read any of my sappy posts) understand the emotions and historical significance.

Friedman also discusses the analogy of how golf is like life. I LOVE that part. Any golfer knows how true it is. He makes an interesting point comparing golf to other sports as well:

Baseball, basketball and football are played on flat surfaces designed to give true bounces. Golf is played on an uneven terrain designed to surprise. Good and bad bounces are built into the essence of the game. And the reason golf is so much like life is that the game — like life — is all about how you react to those good and bad bounces. Do you blame your caddy? Do you cheat? Do you throw your clubs? Or do you accept it all with dignity and grace and move on, as Watson always has. Hence the saying: Play one round of golf with someone and you will learn everything you need to know about his character.

Golf is all about individual character. The ball is fixed. No one throws it to you. You initiate the swing, and you alone have to live with the results. There are no teammates to blame or commiserate with. Also, pro golfers, unlike baseball, football or basketball players, have no fixed salaries. They eat what they kill. If they score well, they make money. If they don’t, they don’t make money. I wonder what the average N.B.A. player’s free-throw shooting percentage would be if he had to make free throws to get paid the way golfers have to make three-foot putts?

What would it be? Maybe Dwight Howard would have made those key free-throws in the 2009 NBA Finals. And maybe Shaq’s career-average free-throw shooting would be better than 52.4%.