Phil Mickelson Did Golf a Favor

Posted on June 30 2018

When one of golf’s majors takes place, there is often no shortage of things for the media to overanalyze in the days following the event. Such has certainly been the case with the 118th edition of the U.S. Open. But while there are several things worth talking about, the conversation has centered on one—Phil Mickelson.

His actions on the 13th hole during Round Two were shocking to say the least. Who among us that has ever stepped on a putt-putt course let alone a golf course hasn’t done the same? Come on—you’ve been struggling all day. You miss another shot enough that your bad will just get a lot worse.

But rather than live through the ‘suck’ you take another swing before your ball stops.

Is it wrong? Of course, it is! But when you are that frustrated you don’t care about the consequences. You just want to do your best Happy Gilmore and ask the ball why it doesn’t want to go to its home.

It’s a completely understandable, human reaction to get frustrated and show that frustration.

Mickelson could have expressed his frustration by ranting and raving at his caddy or someone in the crowd. He could have cracked a club in half or thrown one in the trees or some water (if any was near). He could have become violent or aggressive towards the first person he saw.

But he didn’t. He just hit his ball when he shouldn’t have—because he was frustrated and because he is human.

Therein lies where he did golf a favor.

Professional athletes tend to be put up on a pedestal. We do so because we are enamored and amazed with them every time we see them play. We marvel at the hand-eye coordination it takes to hit a 99 MPH fastball out of the park. Fans gasp in disbelief each time an incredible one-handed catch is made. We refuse to believe our eyes when we see Steph Curry shoot three-pointer like most of shoot layups.

As we watch professional athletes do what they do, we wonder how they can make something so difficult look so easy. Whether we do so consciously or not, we put them on a pedestal because of their talent and skill. They are no longer like the rest of us.

They are better.

You can say that since they are pros, they are supposed to be better. But regardless of how well the shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, catch a football, or swing a golf club, they are all humans too. Phil Mickelson reminded us of that with his mini-meltdown.

Come on— who among us that has ever played a round of golf has not had a meltdown?

His excuse after the fact hasn’t rung true for many but if you think about it for a moment, you’ll see he is being truthful.

“In that situation, I was just going back and forth,” he said. “I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

“I took the two-shot penalty and moved on. It’s my understanding of the rules. I’ve had multiple times where I’ve wanted to do that. I just finally did.”

He had not been playing well, and he could see his day was about to get worse. He had to know already that he was probably not going to make the cut. So, why bother delaying the inevitable? Why not just do what it takes to complete the round a little faster? It’s not like missing the cut by any more or by fewer matters.

If you miss it, you miss it. How much you miss it by doesn’t matter.

Of course, the media at large and several golfers don’t feel that way. Mickelson has been heavily criticized. Some felt he should have been disqualified; others felt he should have withdrawn. Some are still upset after the end of the tournament.

But instead of doing what they wanted, he did what most of us would do. He reacted to a situation, took his punishment for that reaction, and moved on.

He did what most humans would do. If only some of his fellow golfers and the media could do the same.

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