Friday, September 3, 2010

Holy Cow Love and Kindness

I've been reading Mary Karr's Lit. a memoir which traces her descent into a truly hellish alcoholic state. I love reading about drug and alcohol use, getting a vicarious thrill from tales of abuse I've been lucky to avoid, tales I might have written myself had I been less careful. There have been numerous enough bad drunks in my family it's as if there have been signposts over the years that read-- Bender Ahead or Caution: Beware of Blackouts. 

Part of her story deals with the difficulty she had accepting the "higher power" aspect of AA. I related to her skepticism regarding being force fed a diet of Evangelical stew. She put up an admirable fight playing the cynic to her sponsor's advocacy. One of the counter arguments got my attention, however. Her sponsor argues that it is less important who (or what) you pray to than the act of praying itself. I found myself thinking about what Eddie Merrins counseled during one of our conversations, not about going on the wagon, but about achieving a quest.

Eddie Merrins:
You’re talking about mechanical things. You’re talking about physical things. You’re talking about psychological things. Sooner or later you’ll get around to spiritual things. That to me is the four-part make-up of the golf game. It’s partly technical— yes, you need to understand how you like to swing, how you like to play shots. It’s partly physical, dealing with your physical well-being and the ability, if you have it, to put yourself in a relaxed state. But mentally you need the commands, the positive commands that let you produce. And you need to be able to deal with the emotions, the temper, the motivation, the highs and lows. Learning to be positive versus tentative and negative. And then character-wise, the spiritual part comes into play.
It’s partly physical, partly technical, partly mental and partly spiritual.  Spiritual meaning—it could come from religion, it could come from education, it could come from association, it could come from philosophy. Regardless of where it comes from, it breathes the character into the person.

For all my skepticsm, when it comes to the power of positive thinking on the golf course. I'm a true believer. It wasn't until I gave myself over to Eddie's advice that I was able to battle the demons to a draw.

Which raises the question: How does faith, belief, and actually praying alter us physiologically? This question has had some dicey new age answers like The Secret which taken in part I get but taken whole strains logic.

From Die Happy:

The concept is this: our lives are shaped by the energy we put into the universe. Visualize good things and good things will materialize. Put out nasty vibrations, as I had evidently been doing big time, and plenty more bad shit awaits you. To some extent this is undoubtedly true but the film’s hokey production values, maudlin music, and smug tone made the thing nearly unwatchable. I found myself running into the same roadblock over and over. What about the hundreds of thousands who died being swallowed by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Had they all been seeping such negativity that the universe saw fit to answer their collective whining en masse? Six million Jews? Children of abuse? Oh, yes father, that little altar boy totally had it coming . . .

I wouldn't argue with anyone of faith. If you fully accept some entity as your personal lord and saviour, I'm guessing you spend less of your time confused about the meaning of life and your part in it. So long as there is a divide between your faith and the right of others to think you're full of shit without banishing them to eternal damnation or, worse, trying to blow them up, I say have at it. And while I haven't fitted myself for a barmitzvah suit (a good thing since I'm in the process of losing so much weight-- okay, early in the process) I am going to give this a bit more thought. In the meantime, I'll continue to be a member of the Holy Cow Love and Kindness Church of the Great Outdoors. I worship every day without fail.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon. Contact

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We're Back

There is no inertia quite like the one born out of laziness. I thought I'd take a brief hiatus in May, but I've seen "Back To School" advertisements for weeks and the calendar doesn't lie.

Meanwhile, it was an odd and eventful day for Jim Furyk. His alarm failed to go off and he ended up missing his tee time and being disqualified from the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. I've been there myself, driving like mad, sweating profusely, cursing my carelessness. It's no fun. 

In Jim's case it's even worse. He'll have to answer questions about it for weeks and, if he comes in second, have to wonder why he didn't have a back-up plan for a dead cell phone battery.

Tiger will have another go at it, albeit as a single guy. I can't imagine what it sounds like in his head as he stares down a 20-footer for par. I dislike piling on, but watching him over the summer has at least confirmed for us married guys that there are benefits to refraining from chasing skirts not attached to a spouse's ass.

The dawn patrol is still out there twice a week. Richard, Dennis, Tom and I are still walking Rancho, vying for the various rewards of competition. Someone asked if we play for money so I thought I'd let an excerpt from the book explain:

Tom and I have a match every time we play. This started during the last NHL strike, so we called our match the “Stanley.” The loser had to answer to Sally. Soon thereafter, uncomfortable with the misogynistic tone, we switched and made the winner Sally. The winner is now said to be “wearing the dress” and, like the Ryder Cup, he who possesses said garment need only halve the match to retain it.

There's more to it than that, in that each golfer of five (counting Jim Dewitt) has a separate match and garment but I'll leave that for another time. I hope your summer's gone swimmingly and your swimming's been swell.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon. Contact

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ron Scalera

He was a huge-hearted music-loving good and loyal friend. He died this morning.

I worked for Ron, writing and producing music for CBS where he ran the On-Air Promotion department, from 1990 to 2006. He cared about music deeply and was a fine musician himself.

The end of our working relationship is closely chronicled in my book, Die Happy. He was enormously supportive of this new venture as he was of any creative pursuit chased in earnest. That's just who he was. He loved the best of everything and encouraged all he worked with to aspire to the greatest heights they could achieve.

He was a very good promo man, but what he loved more was riffing, ripping on a Les Paul.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ordinary Remarkable

The Masters completed, the PGA headed for Hilton Head for what is traditionally a sleepy and pretty tournament on the Carolina coast. The big names weren't there and guys whose names don't usually get top billing battled it out. Hockey and basketball playoffs take over page one and golf fans need to dig into the back of the sports section to find a story about it.

Except this year, the guy who came in second put the tournament front and center.

On the first hole of a sudden death playoff, Brian Davis called a penalty on himself and it cost him, in addition to 400k, the victory.

Fans of other sports may have difficulty understanding it. An outfielder catches a low liner after it skips off the ground, lifts his glove to show the ump he's made the grab, and, despite knowing full well he didn't catch it on the fly, will run off the field if the umpire signals out. He's not even accused of dishonesty, rather, he's praised for having "sold it well".

Professional sports are televised with such technically advanced coverage that a replay usually reveals such subterfuge in seconds. All an announcer will say in response is that the ref got it wrong. He won't impugn the player for lack of honor. Strangely, honesty isn't expected.

In golf, it is. This alone sets the game apart. People marvel at the oddity-- they certainly did in Brian Davis' case when hundreds of media outlets picked up the story, namely, Athlete Tells The Truth. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Davis deserves all the praise he's getting.

 People should realize, however, anyone who plays golf the right way would do the same thing.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tommy P

Tom Patchett has been a friend for decades. He's a regular golf partner and a major character in my book.

I attended his birthday party last night at Rush Street along with 50 or so other FOTs. More than any other one thing, what makes a party great is the collective feeling the assembled have about the feted one. Everyone's great affection for Tom resulted in a walloping warmth.

I shepherded a filmed tribute to Tom, included here, that manifests the great love we all have for Tom and, as promised last night, I post it here on his actual birthday.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Phil's Got A New Fan

I've never been much of a Phil Mickelson fan. He's a nice enough fella and a talented golfer, but he's never fired up much enthusiasm in me. 

As of today, I'm a fan.

Yeah, you guessed it. I've been one of the legion of Tigerites, hooked on the prodigious drives, laser-like approaches, and other-wordly putting, but the Masters provided more than enough evidence that when it comes to character, Phil wins in a romp.

Tiger put on his best face, contrite and uncharacteristically warm, and proceeded to put up three good rounds that left him within what would normally be striking range. Okay, I thought, maybe he's turned over a new leaf.

It didn't last.

On the 13th hole Tiger skied his drive and his f-bomb tirade was captured in high definition. On the next hole he
had four feet for birdie that would have left him close to the lead. He missed it, missed the two-foot par putt, tapped in for bogey and stonily walked to the 15th tee. Gone was the warmth, the humanity. All that was left was the greedy child that is Tiger Woods.

Meanwhile, Phil was calmly assessing his chances from the woods on 13, deciding in typical fashion to attempt a 205-yard shot off the pine needles, through the trees, over the pond to the linoleum hard green. Bingo.
The main difference between the two? Tiger was alone. Phil had family. Phil played courageously, emotionally, driven by the memory of truly awful year his wife has had battling breast cancer. 

And when he'd won and reached his wife by the scoring house, Phil took her in his arms and cried. CBS can be forgiven for replaying the tear streaking his cheek in slow motion.

Golf's a mysterious game but I'd dare say this much is true. Every golfer plays not only with his or her talent but with their whole life. Phil had a team. Tiger was alone. It was no contest.

Die Happy
by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glass Houses

Here comes Tiger. What looked to be a lengthy hiatus turned out to be a 144 day look-repentant-and-get-ready-for-the-Masters blip in the TW continuum. Maybe we should have seen it coming. Maybe you did. I didn't.

Yesterday, Billy Payne, master Masters spokesman, gave a press conference which ended with a strange diatribe about Tiger's transgressions. He lectured philosophically about the great disappointment caused, both for this and future generations.

Why is it we feel like this is the stuff of public discourse? Doesn't it make relevant the sexual behaviour of every member of Augusta National? Shouldn't Mr. Payne have to answer to his own fidelity, now that he has called out the one golfer who brings more attention, and dollars, to his organization than any other? What business is it of his?

I love the Masters as much as anyone. I'll watch it end to end. I'll dream of someday playing a round there as I have since first laying eyes on it. I'll defend the place when critics decry its refusal to admit women. But this arrogance is too much. I stopped going to church when the hypocrisy of church leaders became unavoidably obvious and I certainly don't need Billy Payne to step into the void.

Any married person knows the pitfalls of fooling around. We also know the benefits, no matter how great the temptations, of being a faithful spouse.

I'd like to put one question to Mr. Payne. Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.