Entering golf’s last major championship of the year, the PGA Championship, I was reminded of a story I am not so proud of.
“I didn’t quit drinking because I was a bad drunk. I quit because I was a spectacular drunk. It got to be like a video game, where you get to the highest level and it’s not even a challenge any more.”
This quote, and the others you will read here, come from the guy I consider to be a golf, but more so a comedic, genius.
If you do not know who David Feherty is, you should learn. Nevermind, I will just tell you. David Feherty is an Irish-born former professional golfer turned commentator/analyst/talk show host/comedian. He has been described as a combination of Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey for his quick wit paired with an ingratiating persona that makes his interviewees at ease at all times. And while he had a magnificent career standing over a golf ball, he was born to stand behind a microphone.
As a guy that grew up watching Sunday afternoon golf with my Dad, David Feherty became a part of our routine at a young age. His captivating Irish brogue coupled with his humor made this sport, synonymous with the words ‘boring’ and ‘too slow’, interesting and funny.
David Feherty was something I wanted to be in many ways.
“That ball is so far left, Lassie couldn’t find it if it was wrapped in bacon.”
In 2005 I had the unintentional pleasure of meeting David at a conference in West Palm Beach Florida. On behalf of my company I was exhibiting at a trade show event with a colleague of mine and David Feherty was the keynote speaker. As we registered for the conference, I opened the program and discovered this fortunate coincidence.
“Oh man, David Feherty is speaking here,” I squeaked like a 12 year old heading back stage to meet Harry Styles.
My comrade-in-conference was not a golf fan and did not have a bloody clue who David Feherty was and why I was so excited.
“Dude, guy is awesome. Wicked funny and talks about golf,” I retorted like that same 12 year old girl talking about her boyfriend Tommy who sits in the first row of 6th grade.
“Um, ok man. Never heard of him,” he gingerly responded.
“Pffft,” was all ‘Susie Pigtails’ could muster.
“Watching Phil Mickelson play golf is like watching a drunk chasing a balloon near the edge of a cliff.”
Conference opens but my only focus was catching my man DF speak rather than targeting that next big client. As I stated above, he is truly a stand up comedian so I made sure I was available to attend his speech. When I snuck my way in to the (customer-only) luncheon event I wiggled my way to the back so I could casually catch all of his wit which would surely be wasted on these propeller-headed-tech-geeks attending this conference. And so it went…side splitting jokes….spit up your drink stories…and so on. It was an hour of awesomeness. Totally lived up to my expectations.
“I lost 150 lbs. if you include my wife.”
I darted my way out the door and back to my sad little exhibit booth. I was pumped. My buddy was there waiting….and waiting to make fun of me.
“Well, I hope that was as good as you thought it would be?” he grimaced as he sat bored anticipating the next rush of nerds to come speak to us.
“It was…you should have come with,” I proclaimed.
“Yeah, whatever. (pause) You know, it just hit me,” he said with a light-bulb-over-the-head look about him. “This dude Feherty is a better, cooler, more successful version of you?”
“Huh, what the hell are you talking about,” I growled.
“Yeah, he is. He is a better golfer than you. Funnier than you’ll ever be. He is even more Irish than you. It all makes sense to me now. You want to be this guy”
Hit a nerve like an errant 1 iron.
“Shutup,” I weakly replied.
Maybe I did have a slight man-crush/bro-mance/Elton AND John type thing happening. So what?
“When CBS came to me and asked me to do on-course commentary, I said, ‘You know, I’m only 37, I still have hopes of [playing] a little better.’ So they told me what they were going to pay me, and I said, ‘You want to buy a set of clubs?’ “
Time ticks by. The day ends. We learn that David will be signing autographs and giving some putting lessons to guests of the conference. Color. Me. IN.
Without getting in to it I waited in a short (45 minute) line. Got his autograph (alright fine, and a picture). It was, again, cool.
Shook his hand, gave him my spiel about watching him on Sundays with my Dad yada, yada, yada. He gave me the politest ‘good for you now move along you creep’ smile and head nod. I don’t care. I was content.
Here is where it gets interesting.
Fast forward about 4 hours. We’ll call it 11:00PM. All of our working duties were long over and we decided to grab a (one more) night cap and call it a day. Enter the lobby bar of this plush resort and order a cocktail. As I awaited my drink, I happen to look down the bar and notice (a now famously sober) David Feherty sipping something ‘brown’ with one of his mates.
“Excuse me,” I golf whisper to the barkeep. “Would you mind sending Mr. Feherty down a drink from us and I’ll have whatever he is having.”
Bartender gives me the eye roll but moseys his way down the long bar to offer my offer. He quickly returns back.
“Mr. Feherty says thank you, but he is all set.”
“Oh.” I sadly mumble
“And by the way, he is drinking a double Black Bush (an expensive Irish whiskey)…neat”.
“Yeah, right, that sounds good. I’ll have the same”
My buddy gives me the hairy eyebrow and questions this decision.
“Come on dude, you are gonna start drinking straight whiskey now? We have a long day and…”
I cut him off.
“Dude, will you shut the f&$% up. I’m fine. I’m Irish too. I love this stuff,” said the liar.
After a couple of giant vats of warm whiskey from the homeland I was acting like the spawn of Doc Holliday and Frank Sinatra.
The last thing I recall I was yelling at the bartender something along the lines of “You can never beat up your father no matter what age you are!” (Pretty sure I challenged him to an arm wrestling match as well)
The last thing that actually happened, according to my buddy, Sober McHatesme, was I literally fell off my barstool. Flat.on.my.face.
Apparently I was making a trek toward Feherty to confront him for not accepting my drink. Yeah, that will impress him.
More apparent, my man Feherty had departed the joint an hour earlier.
So…that’s my story.