Who’s your caddie?

Golf can be a frustrating game. Just ask any weekend duffer who explores more uncharted territories than Vasco da Gama in search of lost golf balls during a round of play. Better yet, query those superstar athletes whose prominence in their main sport makes their on-course shortcomings all the more glaring.

  Even the golfing pros have their ups and downs, but since their primary vocation is undertaken on the links, they typically are able to deal effectively with the dips. There are exceptions, however.
  Tiger Woods, for instance, often shows a great deal of emotion when things go seriously awry during a tournament. Considering the championships and money he’s already won, you’d think Woods would more easily shrug off the occasional hiccups in his game.
  Usually, though, he and other PGA members who endure their own periods of struggle place blame for any mishaps where it belongs: on themselves. That’s as it should be.
  Apparently, Jessica Korda hasn’t yet learned that lesson. Already an LPGA player at the tender age of 20, Korda’s golfing abilities are obviously well above average.
  As for her behavior — well, that’s another story.
  Korda was recently playing a somewhat lackluster third round at the LPGA’s U.S. Open, but her nine-hole score of 40 wasn’t so bad that it demanded a hair-trigger reaction. That’s the kind she gave, however, when she suddenly appeared on the 10th hole with a new caddie.
  Korda’s boyfriend had replaced regular bagman Jason Gilroyd. When interviewed after the round, Korda offered little of substance as to why she so abruptly jettisoned Gilroyd, who has caddied for other LPGA members and, according to the author of the online story I read, is considered quite professional in his own right.
  In the opinion of Shane Bacon, who did some caddying while Gilroyd worked for LPGA golfer Cristie Kerr, Gilroyd is a “solid dude” who is a “great caddie.” And, of course, as Bacon rightfully pointed out, professional caddies are required to do more than merely tote golf bags.
  They also serve as swing coaches and, more importantly, voices of reason during times of difficulty. And seeing as how Gilroyd is twice Korda’s age and, thus, more experienced in both golf and life, it would make good sense for her to listen to what he has to say.
  Ah, but if good sense were found in this story, this story wouldn’t be found in this column space. You see, as is true in so many sports-related scenarios, foolishness trumps all.
  And there’s simply no other polite way to describe Korda’s knee-jerk decision except foolish, unless one prefers “absurd,” “nonsensical” or “imbecilic.” That’s especially so since, on the brief video interview she granted at the end of her round, Korda gave no indication that anything particularly bad had been brewing between her and Gilroyd.
  But even if there was, real adults don’t react the way Korda did. Instead, they talk things out — in private, and by that I don’t mean a private golf course — and sincerely attempt to find a mutually satisfying, reasonable resolution to whatever problems they have encountered.
  Korda may be a paid professional, but she more closely resembled a jilted prom queen on this occasion.
  Did she ever stop to think that whatever advice Gilroyd offered was done with her best interests at heart? After all, the amount of Gilroyd’s pay each week was based upon Korda’s finishing spot in the tourney field, so he’s not going to risk taking money out of his own pocket by offering unsound recommendations just to teach a snotty kid a lesson.
  Besides, who was actually swinging the club and hitting the shots? Yes, while caddies are valuable commodities to golfers, they don’t sign the scorecards at the end of each day.
  If we’re supposed to believe Korda’s unsatisfactory play was more a result of some Gilroyd missteps than any of her own, then I guess we should start assessing blame to the proper parties at all other times, too.
  So the next time your favorite outfielder loses a fly ball in the sun, curse your local weather reporters for not forecasting a cloudy game day. And if your favorite quarterback can’t escape a pass rush, don’t fault non-blocking linemen. Instead, point the accusatory finger at the groundskeeping crew for not taking better care of the stadium grass.
  If a basketball player has a poor shooting night, blame the equipment manager for over-inflating the balls and giving them too much bounce off the rim. A poor effort by a hockey goalie? Maybe it can be traced back to the preparer of an unsatisfactory pregame meal, which made the goalie feel ill before the goalie’s performance did the same to fans.
  And why stop at sports? Our nation’s political leaders love to pass the buck on to someone else, too, unless it’s the kind that fits into your billfold. Those they keep.
  Remember when tennis players Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe used to regularly bash line judges for making what were deemed incorrect calls? Even if the rulings later proved accurate, how often do you recall hearing Connors or McEnroe shift blame back to himself for a brief performance breakdown?
  That continued failure to act professionally brought both players plenty of public grief, even though they retired as all-time greats. But as embarrassing as each could be when the spirit moved him, neither Connors nor McEnroe fired anyone in the middle of a match.
  I suppose Korda is merely reflecting our society as a whole. Taking personal responsibility is just so yesterday that a spoiled brat like Korda can’t be bothered with it.
  Undoubtedly, Korda’s parents are proud of their daughter’s ascent in the world of golf. Heaven help us if they feel the same way about her interpersonal skills.