BEN CRENSHAW … 19 PGA TOUR VICTORIES … RYDER CUP PLAYER, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1995; U.S. TEAM CAPTAIN, 1999 … 2-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION, 1984, 1995 … PGA TOUR GOLFER, 1973-PRESENT Sometimes this game cannot be endured with a club in one’s hand. BOBBY JONES, legendary golfer BEN CRENSHAW 209 Igot involved in golf at a very early age and I learn something new about it every day. I just love the history of it, and I often wonder why this sport has lasted five hundred years.
I am all about playing by the rules. You play and live your life by your honor. You play hard and you play competitive, and then, when it’s over, you shake hands and, if you’ve lost, you accept that with all the grace you have. OH, BENNY My battle is with my temper, and it still bubbles up every so often. I’ve thrown clubs and I broke a driver one time in front of my mother in a college match. She was so embarrassed and ashamed, it was terrible. I still regret it to this day. I can see her sad brown eyes and her saying, Oh, Benny. It was tough! As a pro, I threw a club at my own bag and got fined. To this day, before I lose it on the course, I can hear my mom, and most of the time that stops me from doing something I’ll regret.
MEETING A LEGEND I happened to meet a legend growing up named Harvey Penick. Many people talk about how he taught me to putt perhaps better than anyone else on the tour, but I think about what he taught me about life. I met him was I was very young and I’m grateful for all he gave me in my life. I’ll give you an example. I was ten years old and one guy was driving away on the range when a young Mexican man started collecting the balls on the range. Well, the guy who was hitting started screaming at the worker to get out of his way. That’s when Harvey flew over to him and said, Look, that young man is just doing his job. He’s as important to this club as anyone, so why don’t you hit a different direction. I thought, Wow, he cares about what’s right, not about who has the most money or power.
DEFINING MOMENTS ON THE TOUR: THE MASTERS Harvey passed away on April 2, 1995I served as a pallbearer at the funeral a few days laterand the next day I played in the Masters. I won 210 IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME that tournament for him and always felt fortunate that I was able to salute my mentor with something that signified everything he taught me. In his last days, he was still helping with my game, in particular my putting. Some say, Why play golf in your last days? But it wasn’t about golf. It was about how Harvey had dedicated his life to helping other people. He was selfless to the end, and it’s something I take with me every day. UP AND DOWN I still can’t figure out why I sometimes feel incapable of making a mistake and at other times I’m flat-out fragile.
It’s the way both life and golf are. I wish I could tell you I’ve solved this issue, but I haven’t . . . yet. I still relish those pressure moments, win or lose. I want to be in it at the end, which means here comes the pressure. I love it. My first Masters win was a relief because I had been close to a major championship eight times and had come up short on every one of them. At thirty-two, I won it and right then I began to believe I was capable of being a great golfer. Up until then, I had some doubts. But there’s nothing like success to prove to yourself you can do it. FINAL THOUGHT Looking back at my life, I realize I learned to respect rules in golf, which, in turn, taught me to respect the rules of life. I’ve learned from the sport to act honorably, even when no one else is looking.
And I like to think that’s the way I’ve led my life. I will always strive to do so. I guess you can say I learned that first life lesson on the green. THE WRAP Ben Crenshaw defines the word grateful. Yes, we know he’s talented, and he thinks of himself as fortunate. Again, we see the power of one. And in this case, that one person was a pretty famous oneHarvey Penickwho cared enough to help a kid and infuse him not only with golf technique, but with life’s lessons. BEN CRENSHAW
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