Gov still trying to conquer golf
June 5, 2012 11:20PM
Defending BMW Championship champion Justin Rose, of England, prepares to hit a tee shot during media day at Crooked Stick Golf Club Monday, June 4, 2012, in Carmel, Ind. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, left, and Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard talk with Rose. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:48AM
CARMEL — Mitch’s golf game is just like yours and mine
Good to know that the hyper competitive governor of our great state believes he is on his way to being better than he really is now. That reality will soon collide with expectations and produce real results for his game..
That somehow the treacherous journey to golf excellence, a Platonic ideal for any real golfer, is just around the corner for him. A little tweak here and he will have found “it,” whatever “it” is.
Daniels is a 13-handicapper who could break double digits if only he had more time, perhaps a lesson or two and if his home course wasn’t so stupidly impossible. He belongs to Crooked Stick, the diabolical Pete Dye track that hosted the 1991 PGA Championship. This year, the BMW Championship, part of the FedEx Cup playoffs, moves from Cog Hill to Crooked Stick in September. Daniels was there to usher in the arrival of the BMW and talk a little about his game.
“A steady diet of this course makes me try too hard,” he lamented soulfully.
That line was spoken by a man who truly has been infected by the golf bug, an infliction that is chronic, pervasive and debilitating.
He publicly urged Tour officials to grow the rough for the September event so that players like Justin Rose, last year’s champion who was there Monday to pump up the event, could “feel some of his pain.”
Daniels shot an 88 Sunday in his latest round at Crooked Stick. He was quick to point out that was with six double bogeys and that on just about any other course, his score would’ve been four or five shots better. Surprisingly, for a guy that plays roughly 30 rounds per year, he said the chipping and putting were solid.
There were no concessions or quips from Daniels, a typical defense mechanism when a golfer rationalizes bad play, about his game. He was trying, is trying and will continue to try to improve.
His lowest round at Crooked Stick was an 80 or an 81. I found it puzzling he didn’t know which one it was.
“I still haven’t broken 80,” he said.
What good golfer doesn’t remember his lowest round at a certain course? I can rattle mine off like I know my kids’ names. An 82 at the Course at Aberdeen, an 86 at the Valparaiso Country Club, multiple 77s at Forest Park Golf Course, an 82 at the Brassie Golf Club and a 99 at Crooked Stick.
Ah, well, I’ll cut him some slack. The budget buster is a busy man.
Daniels joined Crooked Stick sometime before he was sent off to Washington to work for George W. Bush as his budget director. That didn’t really do much for his game.
He hardly played when he worked in Washington DC.
“I couldn’t appreciate the place,” he said.
He took up golf late, when he was around 40. Daniels, who looks like he could bench press Tiger Woods about 25 times, is known more for his intense workout regime and his motorcycle habit than for his golf game.
“We thought it was a sissy sport,” Daniels said.
Soon enough, he was hooked, playing as many as 50 rounds a year. He can hit it 250 yards off the tee if everything works perfectly.
He is longer than he’s ever been but not “consistently long.”
Every summer, Daniel heads to Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where he and his wife, Cheri, own a house. They spend a week there and Daniels said that is when he’ll sometimes play 36 holes a day, getting in as many as 10 rounds.
“Sometimes, I go downhill instead of uphill when I play too much,” he said.
He has a standing Saturday morning game at Crooked Stick, he always walks and, sometimes, he’ll sneak out on Sunday afternoon. Soon enough, when his term as governor is over and he has nothing to do but watch the grass grow, sell a few more books and stay limber for the 2016 presidential elections (just in case, you know), Daniels will have more time to conquer the golf beast.