Corey Pavin invited Major Dan Rooney, the F-16 pilot and PGA golf instructor who started Patriot Golf Day in the US, to speak to his team on Tuesday night. Considering the notoriety Pavin gained in the ’91 Ryder Cup match at Kiawah Island, dubbed “War by the Shore,” when he wore a camouflage hat during the Persian Gulf War, it might be wise to keep military references at bay.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as an American, I support our troops, but it’s the likening of a golf match to war that’s bothersome.
“It wasn’t so much a motivational speech, per se,” Pavin explained. “But maybe a little more awareness of what’s happening around the world and what’s going on and how, in a military sense, how team unit and accountability to each other is very important. So I just asked him to stress some points that I’ve been stressing, and just relate it in a different manner. It was a very fun evening, actually. It was quite good.”
He added, “I want these guys to be accountable to each other and have each other’s backs. And basically that’s what happens in the military. He just shared a few stories about that and how it relates in the military to what’s happened.”
In a follow-up question, Pavin was asked about the War by the Shore incident and whether it would have been more prudent to avoid war references.
“No, I don’t think so,” answered the American captain. “I think the military awareness in the United States is probably at an all-time high. And I think people, certainly in the States, and over here, appreciate the military and what they do for our freedoms, and that’s what that was good about.”
Major Rooney’s talk stirred emotions in some players and tears from Bubba Watson, which, as we’ve learned this year, aren’t uncommon.
“[Rooney] was just talking about the Stars and Stripes and about how he represents our country and gives us freedom, all of the military gives us freedom and that’s what he was talking about,” said Watson. “He just talked about how he just — you know, the Stars and Stripes and what a big honor it is to put that on and how we should be thankful for what we do. But all of us were emotional for what he does that let’s us play golf and play in The Ryder Cup.”
Undoubtedly, Rooney shared powerful words, but to compare fighting a war with one set of millionaires playing golf against another is downright insulting. Even if it’s not exactly what Pavin intended, it’s his history of war-like associations in this game that forces us to interpret it as such.
Phil Mickelson, who appeared reluctant to speak on the touchy subject (almost embarrassed), gave a more diplomatic answer, “I haven’t noticed that to be the case, but I do feel proud to be part of a country that cares about the civil rights of people all throughout the world and not just in our own country.”
Continued Watson, “My dad was a military man. He was in Vietnam. He gave us a special present last night. It meant a lot. My dad is dying of cancer, he has, the doctor, says three months to live. I’m playing this for him and representing the United States and I more than likely am never going to be in the military unless they ask for our help, so more than likely I am never going to be in the military so this is the chance to be like my dad.”
[Photo by AP]