The Thought Bubble-Wasted Wisdom
If you had the opportunity to gain an edge in whatever it is that you do in life and all that was a required was a phone call, would you make that phone call? Yes, right?! Why the hell wouldn’t you make that phone call?
This is something I have been thinking about since I have started producing Fairways of Life. I have had the honor and pleasure of speaking with and hearing from countless World Golf Hall of Famers and Major Championship winners through our thousands of interviews. As time has gone on and our library has expanded so has our knowledge. It never ceases to amaze me the quality of wisdom that is dispensed with regularity. Sometimes after I say goodbye to a Legend on the phone I will think to myself, “I bet Brandt Snedeker could get over that Major hump if he just gave him a call?” or “I wonder if said rookie has ever talked to fill the in the blank?” So the question is obvious right? Why aren’t the Tour players of today reaching out to the Hall of Famers of yesterday for guidance and wisdom?
I know the matter is a bit subjective. Some guys are doing exactly what I am talking about. Take Jason Day for example, in March of 2016 prior to the WGC Cadillac Championship he called Tiger Woods for advice. At the time Jason Day was 28 years old and had gotten off to a rocky start following his magical 2015 season. He felt he needed to find his “killer instinct” again and thought who better to ask, “”I have the killer instinct — I do, it’s down there, but it just hasn’t come out yet” Day said in March. “Once it does, I’m hoping that I can replicate the second half of last year. But it’s amazing to be able to talk to someone that’s done it for so long, because he did it for 14, 15 years of just absolutely dominating and killing it. If there’s a better person to talk to about it, that was him.” 50 minutes on the phone picking Tiger’s brain and guess what happened next? The following week at the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational Jason Day wins, the week after that at the WGC Match Play he wins again.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Call up Tiger Woods and pick his brain! Well, doesn’t seem like very many players are taking advantage. Stories like Jason and Tiger are few and far between. Look at just a few of these names: Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer and even Tiger Woods all have multiple Major Championships under their belt and I am sure (as Tiger has shown) if approached would be willing to help and share their knowledge in any way they could! I spoke with Hall of Famer Hale Irwin who told me he finds it “extremely interesting” that none of these younger guys are asking for advice. I asked Hale how many guys called the 3 time US Open Champion up to pick his brain prior to this years tournament at Erin Hills and he said, “it’s between 0 and 0.” He continued on to share that he felt things on Tour aren’t the same any more “it’s a different culture now,” he said. He talked about how all the players have these “teams” of people around them and have to deal with listening to various voices. The more we spoke the clearer it became to me this was a subject matter that struck a chord. Towards the end of our conversation he sort of muddled under his breath, almost as if he was saying it sarcastically to himself, “maybe these teams know more than Jack Nicklaus.”
Hale Irwin isn’t alone in his disappointment and confusion, I also spoke with Major Champion Hal Sutton. I asked him if he is ever sought out by the young guns, “No, I am sure everybody else said no too.” However, he told me he’d happily take those calls if the phone ever rang. “Unless you walk into the self help section you aren’t going to get any help, because you aren’t ready for it” Hal told me. He continued, “most of the time all golfers, myself included, sought out the right kind of help when you were bouncing off of rock bottom.” Hal definitely seemed to think even the best of today would benefit from the wisdom, of Jordan Spieth he said “After Jordan finished Rookie of the Year and then Player of the Year the first telephone call he should have made after that was to Jack Nicklaus and say OK, I am in the same position you were a lot of years ago you tell me what you would do from this point forward if you were me.”
This isn’t limited to the PGA TOUR either, it’s no different on the LPGA Tour. Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, who won over 30 times and collected 5 Major Championships began our conversation by saying “it’s a very interesting subject you want to discuss and I do have some very particular feelings on this subject” this before I even asked her a question! A trend is emerging here people. Amy used the word “disappointed” several times, almost giving me the sense she was hurt that her wealth of knowledge and experience has yet to be tapped. She has had some players ask for advice in a casual way, “can you look at my putting” but she has noticed that there just isn’t a whole lot of reaching out and she doesn’t get it. “I am in the hall of fame and I have a lot to share about my career and my expertise and my story that I think would enhance a young players life, and I have done my share of offering.” Amy even told me whenever she offered her guidance very often no one would ever follow up at all. Clearly, she wants to help, she would love to help, but someone has to ask!
Maybe it’s a strange mix of ego, pride, belief, over-confidence and fear or nervousness that holds these players back but whatever it is, I say they need to get over it, because if all that stands between you and a Major Championship is a phone conversation with Hale Irwin, it’s about time to use your lifeline and phone a friend!
Below is a short clip from some of the interviews: