CAPTAIN’S Letter 2020
My Fellow Members,
I am honoured to be your Captain and together with my Vice Captain Gerry Robinson, we
plan to deliver a great golf program for 2020.
I would like to thank the outgoing Captain Garrett Cooke for his sterling work in 2019 and
the work of the unsung heroes of the Committee, sub-Committees and the many volunteers
who have created the fabulous Golf community in Castleknock that we all enjoy.
I write my first letter to you in the strangest of times, living in the shadow of the Corona
Pandemic and the worst economic fallout in a century. Many of us are suffering severe
disruption and staying at home with little clarity about the future, which all makes for
anxious times. Our worries are for our loved ones and perhaps among us there will be some
who have been touched directly by this disease. Amongst us also will be our front-line
workers and their worried parents, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, who will be
affected by the unbearable loss of life in our hospitals. Never before has community been
more important, and I hope that we can help and heal each other as we emerge from lock-
I think it’s important to mention how good golf is for our mental wellbeing. Being with our
friends, sharing a laugh and a joke can help us forget our worries, relieve our stress and
make us realise that we are not alone.
I am very excited to restart the Committee on Monday the 18th and my Committee and I are
determined to provide a full schedule of competition golf; including medals; Interclub and
matchplay competitions. As we re-open for golf please be mindful that we are operating at
60% capacity. When booking Tee Times, please make room for your golf buddies on the
time sheet and please restrict yourself to 3 games maximum per week.
This year I will be introducing the theme of ONE:
The Committee will broaden its scope of interest and activity to encompass the
whole organisational challenge of the wider club.
1) We have appointed a 5-day officer to begin the transition to a more connected 5-
day member experience. This will be managed by Eamon Confrey (5 Day officer)
2) Under the stewardship of Frank Farrelly (Governance Officer), the Committee
will work with the Ladies Committee and other groups to compile a new
constitution to be voted upon in this year’s AGM.
3) The Ladies Club will now hold a 2-year Presidency every fourth term.
In the next year we will develop the constitution to encompass the transition from two
Unions GUI & ILGU to One Union Golf Ireland. The Chairman of this transition in
Ireland is Tim O’Connor and he states that the core principle of Golf Ireland will be
Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Excellence. Our aim should be for us to have an
organisation fit for purpose by 2021. We will therefore begin to reform our practices
to reflect these changes
ONE WORLD HANDICAPPING SYSTEM
Six unions (CONGU, GUI, ILGU, ENGLAND GOLF, R&A, USGA) will merge
their systems in November 2020 to create one universal handicapping system.
Under the new system a player’s handicap will be based on the average eight best
scores from their last 20 rounds of golf. Course rating and slope rating will be taken
We want to introduce every possible opportunity and means to access the best talent available
to us in order to win at Interclub level. Under the determined leadership of past Captain
Garret Cooke and his passion for Interclub, the Committee worked tirelessly to establish its
Interclub credentials, reaching new heights in 2019. Directors of Interclub, Niall Duggan and
John Newcombe have brought new standards of leadership and we owe them a great debt of
gratitude. Our superb teams are now ready to take on the best clubs in the country. It is with
this drive and leadership that we hope to advance further and reach our ultimate goal of
winning a Pennant.
I look forward to working with Captain Lynda O’Keefe and the Ladies Committee as well as
the Junior Committee, and to representing the members interests in making this a successful
year for everyone.
FR MCVERRY TRUST CHARITY (Charity Officer-Andrew O’Loughlin)
The Captains Golf Charity Day for 2020 will take place on Sunday 13th , September and will be
in aid of The Peter McVerry Trust. This will carry on from last year and will include the Ladies
club. The Peter McVerry Trust is committed to reducing homelessness, the harm caused by
substance misuse and social disadvantage. It provides services primarily to younger people
and vulnerable adults with complex needs and offers pathways out of homelessness based
on the principles of the ‘Housing First’ model.
I have indicated in the attached notes the list of serving officers on our new Committee for
2020. Should you wish to reach out to the Committee then please contact Jim Reynolds
(Honorary Secretary), in the first instance at email@example.com
Finally, as we restart golf after a long shutdown, please adhere to the government
guidelines on travel, health and social distancing.
Looking forward to seeing you all on the fairways soon.
Castleknock Golf Club
Follow me on Twitter: Joseph Lavelle@JosephLavelle16
OFFICERS LIST 2020
Castleknock Committee Officers 2020
Joseph Lavelle Captain
Gerry Robinson Vice Captain
Garret Cooke Ex Officio & Interclub Officer
Liam Maher Competition Secretary
Jim Reynolds Honorary Secretary
Pauric Glennon Treasurer
Eamon Comfrey 5-day members officer
Michael Clancy Handicap Secretary
Frank Farelly Governance Officer
Andrew O’ Loughlin Charity Officer
Nigel McIlkenny Officer
Paul Tierney Officer
WINTER GOLF at Castleknock
Your golf club needs your help. It goes without saying that winter can be a more pressurised time of year for clubs as they try to present an acceptable product for members while ensuring that the course will be ready and in great shape for the peak season to come in the summer.
While our course is second to none as a playable winter parkland venue, we should always be mindful of doing our bit to help with the basic maintenance of the course. This is especially true in winter when the weather conditions become a real challenge.
Repairing Pitch Marks, Replacing Divots
Important all year round, but even more so during the winter months when surfaces are a little softer than they are in summer and pitch marks and divots become more severe and more common.
With low temperatures reducing recovery, if not repaired straight away, the marked area will often die, and this creates the perfect space for moss and disease to encroach.
Obeying Course traffic-management at Castleknock GC
Our Greenkeepers have roped off certain areas of the course that have become waterlogged, damaged or unfit for play. It is really important that you respect the advice given not only to protect the golf course but also in some cases for the safety of the golfer.
READY GOLF …. THE CASTLEKNOCK WAY
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Ready golf is about being considerate to the whole course and respecting your fellow golfers. It is a common-sense approach to improve the pace of play in our club.
READY GOLF means thinking ahead so that you are ready to play when it becomes your turn.
Have your bag, balls, tees and club selection ready. Assist your golf partners on how to play ready golf.
There are NO HONOURS, whoever is ready, then Play if safe to do so.
Keep up with the group in front of you
If the group on front is on the fairway, your group should be on the Tee
Be ready to hit when the group on front has moved to the next shot
Keep your pre-shot routine short, aim to play within 20 seconds, Limit your practice swings.
If you are falling behind the group in front, then let the group behind through.
ON THE TEE
There are NO HONOURS, hit when ready and safe to do so
Short hitters should go first if longer hitters are waiting
Watch other players shots, to help find Stray balls
Carry an extra ball in case you need a provisional
Mark scores after you hit your Tee shot not before your drive.
ON THE FAIRWAY
There are NO HONOURS – HIT when it is ready and safe to do so.
Go directly to your ball and be ready to play- Don’t wait until others have played.
Always play your ball first before assisting others to find balls.
At the green, always park your clubs between the green and the next Tee
ON THE GREEN
There are NO HONOURS – Putt when ready if not in someone else line, MAX 20 seconds.
Study your Putt and repair Pitch marks while others are Putting.
Be ready to Putt before it is your turn.
Continue putting until holed out if not in someone else line. Avoid repeated ball markings.
FIRST PLAYER TO HOLE OUT – should move towards the next Tee ready to hit next shot.
The SECOND PLAYER TO HOLE OUT – should replace the Flag.
Never Mark your scores on the Green.
Mark your scores after you have hit your next Tee shot or while waiting.
The target time for a fourball is 4.10 minutes.
Keep a continuous flow of play and help everyone on the course to have a good experience.
Castleknock Men’s Golf Committee
FedEx Cup playoffs: All the changes and modifications for golf’s final showdown Jay Busbee
The 2018-19 golf season is winding down, ending in a three-tournament playoff that will conclude with one golfer getting a metric truckload of money and a trophy suitable for serving soup to an entire wedding.
The FedEx Cup playoffs are back for a 13th season, this time with a peculiar new points/scoring system that ought to generate its fair share of controversy. (Controversy? In the golf world? Well, we never.) Regardless, it’ll bring 30 of the planet’s best golfers to East Lake in Atlanta for a season-ending showdown. Here’s how it will work.
What’s the format of the playoffs?
The FedEx Cup playoffs are the culmination of a season-long accumulation of points. Every tournament on the PGA Tour gets you points toward playoff qualification, which is why you saw a bunch of unfamiliar names atop the playoff standings back in October and November of last year. Most of the top pros take a brief holiday in the fall, allowing others to stack points early in less star-studded events.
Once the big dogs started playing, the points race shifted dramatically. So it’s no surprise that Brooks Koepka is out in front by a wide margin heading into the playoffs.
How are points determined?
Standard PGA Tour events give the winner 500 points, while WGC victories are worth 550 points, and the four majors plus the Players Championship are worth 600 points. Opposite-field events, where a tournament takes place the same week as a major, are worth 300 points to the winner. Everyone who makes the cut gets a smaller share.
Even though Koepka has a sizable 500-point lead with 2,887 points, that’ll vanish in a hurry once the events start. The winner of each of the first two tournaments gets 2,000 points, which means anybody in the top 37 could theoretically vault past Koepka this weekend.
What’s the playoff schedule?
Here’s the first significant change to the playoffs. The number of events has been trimmed from four to three, in part to help prevent players who were already qualified for later events from skipping earlier ones. Plus, the entire playoff has been hauled a month earlier as part of the Tour’s new don’t-compete-with-football schedule.
This weekend brings the Northern Trust Open at Liberty National, which will have a 36-hole cut. The top 70 after that will head to the BMW Championship at Medinah, which will have no cut. And the final 30 will battle it out for a $15 million check at East Lake. And there, things get weird.
What’s the format for the championship?
Unlike in past years, there will be no points reset at the start of the Tour Championship. This time around, players will get “FedEx Cup Starting Strokes”—i.e., they’ll start the tournament at a certain point below par based on their standings at the end of the BMW Championship. The top player will start the Tour Championship at -10, the second-place player at -8. The third-ranked player will be at -7, fourth at -6, and fifth at -5. Players ranked 6-10 will start at -4, 11-15 will be at -3, 16-20 at -2, 21-25 at -1, and 26-30 at even par.
If it hurts your head to try to figure all that out, just imagine that you’re tuning in a few minutes late and the leader boards already sorted itself out.
The flaw with this, obviously, is that someone could shoot an astounding round or full tournament and still come away empty-handed. It’s a sharp departure from the standard format of golf, where a player can have the tournament of his life and gain immortality. Bottom line, though, it’s a reward for playing well both over the full season and over two playoff events. It’s up to you to decide whether this change is for better or worse.
Who are the players to watch?
Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar lead the standings heading into the first week of the playoffs. Look out for Jordan Spieth, who’s stumbled hard in recent weeks and now sits at a not-very-nice 69th; he’ll have to play well just to make the second tournament. Bubba Watson is in 71st position and will need a good week at the Northern Trust to move on. Tiger Woods, last year’s Tour Championship winner, is in 28th position; he ought to be in good shape to make the second round, but will have to work to get back to East Lake.
Only nine players have made the playoffs in all 13 years of their existence: Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III, Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker, and Watson.
What’s the payoff?
The winner of the FedEx Cup will be the winner of the Tour Championship, and vice-versa; no more split titles. That winner will earn a fat $15 million and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. After that, the finishers will earn $5 million for second, $4 million for third, $3 million for fourth, and on down the line. So, there’s a substantial incentive to play well even if you’re not going to win; a new Ferrari might be riding on that last putt. Not for you, of course.
The FedEx Cup playoffs begin Thursday and run through the next three weeks
11 June 2019
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”. – Epictetus
Epictetus knew rough times. He was born a slave. He spent his youth as a slave in Rome, indentured to a wealthy freedman who was the secretary to Nero (that’s the real Nero, not Mr H). Epictetus gained his freedom, moved to Rome, and became an educated man, steeped in the traditions of stoic philosophy. His was the ultimate rags to riches story. A man of tremendous will power and perseverance. But he was never two down through fifteen in the last 16 of the Barton….
Round of 16. Further than ever before. Elm Park. Once more to the well. Fifth time now. Crawley and Cahill. Fifteen holes in. Elm Park easing their foot on to the neck and gearing up to press down on the windpipe. The Knock looking like Carlo Brigante, dying on a subway floor, full of bullets- “Last call for drinks”. The response? Three straight pars on the toughest part of the course. That’s what this panel does- it reacts when it matters. When the need was greatest, Elm Park looked up and were exposed to the full wattage of the Knock. They shrank from the brightness of the light.
Aristotle once said that we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. This is an excellent team. Winning is a habit too. The last 8. Dare to dream.
Report from John Newcombe, Interclub Director.
Castleknock successfully hosted the Barton Shield qualifying round last Saturday with 24 Teams seeking to qualify for Sunday’s semi-final match play.
Castleknock’s Warren Ryan and David Coughlan shot an excellent score of 76 only to be followed by Paul Coughlan and Ian O Connell who shot a level par 72 leaving us to qualify in 2nd place.
On Sunday we played Roganstown in the semi-final and had an emphatic victory with the highlight been an outstanding round by Paul and Ian who carded 1 Eagle and 7 birdies in a wonderful display of foursomes golf.
On Sunday in front of a large supporting crowd, we played the island in the regional Final and despite a great effort from all the lads we just came up short
This was an outstanding achievement by such a young team up against the cream of Leinster golf and definite foundations have been made to go 1 better next year.
On Monday night Castleknock hosted Elm Park in the last 16 of the Barton Cup. This is our 1st ever appearance at this stage of the competition and the team didn’t disappoint with a hard fought 3.5-1.5 win over high quality opposition.
Special mention must go to Martin Cahill and Peter Crawley who despite being 2 down with 3 to play won the last 3 holes to sink the winning putt.
This was a great performance by all members of the team who can now look forward to a quarterfinal clash with either the K Club or Moyvalley on a date to be confirmed.
Jimmy Bruen Shield.
Focus shifts this weekend to the Jimmy Bruen qualifying which takes place next Saturday morning in Kilcock Golf club. The format is foursomes Strokeplay with 4 qualifying for match play on Sunday. Captains Lorcan Brophy and Garrett Cooke have assembled an extremely strong panel which includes a number of our successful Barton Cup team. Best wishes to all the lads and hopefully they can keep the good run going.
WINTER / SPRING LEAGUE UPDATE Week6
The halfway point in the WSL (Winter/Spring league) has just been completed and a very interesting picture is beginning to develop in this years’ renewal. 96 challengers entered the race and although the leaders seem to be in a strong position, the 6 best scores from 11 mean many are still in with a valid shout.
Global warming has a lot to answer for. The golfing weather has been kind to us, the daffodils are evident a little earlier and creatures that normally hibernate have been seen prowling the fairways of Castleknock of late. One such creature leads the league at present, Keith Cooney (Latin name Orangicus Aprilis Octobris) has been Mr Consistent scoring each week. In a recent interview, he stated “12 point lead…I feel like a pacemaker in a race with all these challengers looming behind me just waiting to reel me in, but have I stolen the gallop on them”. Time will tell.
Presently the podium places are completed by the early frontrunner Johnny Craven and Paddy Prendergast. Mr Prendergast has been in solid form and his weekend 37 shows signs of him peaking at the right time and adding to his list of wins. JC, as his followers refer to him, needs a strong finish to put his name on the title and another couple of scores in the late 30s could see him home, anything less will see him miss out on the blue riband but still claim the title of Best Golfer in his family!!
From the pack many have chances, none more so than the redoubtable Mr H. Scores of 40, 39, 35 already banked, a formidable finish to the race is expected, even with the old winter handicap cut at the weekend. Paul Carr has also driven himself (pun intended) into contention with a 40, 37 and 36. Further down the list Brian Burke has adopted the quality over quantity approach and registered only three scores to date 39, 37 and 34 suggesting a little more playing time will see him surge up the leader board in the coming weeks. Many more have three scores that average in the mid-30s, and this race would seem far from done.
With 5 weeks to go the landscape of the leader board will no doubt change over the coming weeks. Have the leaders already reached the limit of their points accumulation? Will we see a late surge from the pack to claim the title on the last weekend? Will we see the WSL completed in qualifying golf conditions? Or have the leaders done enough to keep the chasers at bay? All these questions and more will be answered over the coming weeks.
But for now, play golf, have fun and be proud to be a member of Castleknock Golf Club.
The connection with Castleknock Golf Club is that Aboyeur, the winner of the race, was bred by Tom Laidlaw at Somerton.
It was British racing’s most infamous incident, the moment suffragette Emily Davison stepped in front of the King’s horse as the field galloped round Tattenham Corner. Yet, even if that hadn’t happened, the 1913 Epsom Derby would still rank as one of the most sensational races in the sport’s history, as Sean Magee reports.
It was, according to the Daily Telegraph on the day after the race, “the most unsatisfactory, sensational, and lamentable Derby in the history of the sport” – and a year after its centenary, the 1913 renewal of “The Blue Riband of the Turf” at Epsom is still considered most extraordinary racing event of all.
The race was won by 100-1 outsider Aboyeur, but will always be always be known as “The Suffragette Derby” in recognition of the moment when Emily Wilding Davison, a fanatical activist for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), ducked under the rails near Tattenham Corner and was flattened by King George V’s horse Anmer.
She sustained injuries that would prove fatal, and that would immortalise her – justifiably or not, according to your point of view – as a martyr to the cause.
But, Emily Davison was only one character in a drama that had more sub-plots than a Shakespeare play, and a dramatis personae that included royalty, feuding members of the English racing establishment, dyspeptic jockeys, and a myopic racecourse judge – plus, for good measure, the sinking of the Titanic.
On the run-up to that Derby, the bare bones of the story so far went as follows:
The red-hot favourite for the 134th running of the world’s most famous race was Craganour, owned by Charles Bower Ismay. Despite his exquisite racing colours – officially “Neapolitan violet, primrose hoops, violet cap” – Ismay came with a considerable amount of baggage. His shipping magnate father Thomas Henry Ismay had founded the White Star Line, whose “unsinkable” liner RMS Titanic had made its catastrophic maiden voyage some 14 months before the 1913 Derby.
The loss of more than 1,500 lives had not endeared the Ismay family to the public, and yet more opprobrium was to follow when it came out that Bower’s brother Bruce, chairman of the White Star Line, had been on board the ill-fated vessel, but had survived after taking a place in a lifeboat, leaving others to perish in the icy waters.
Even before the Titanic sinking, Bower Ismay had made himself highly unpopular with certain Jockey Club members – notably Eustace Loder, a pillar of the racing establishment whose dislike for Ismay embraced more than disapproval of his racing practice.
In the scene-setting Prologue of his 2013 book The Suffragette Derby, the definitive account of the whole story, Michael Tanner writes: “Loder’s distaste for Ismay cuts far deeper than suspicions of foul play on the Turf. It’s acutely personal. Quite possibly, in another era, they’d have settled their differences with pistols at dawn. Ismay has been brazenly conducting an affair with Loder’s sister-in-law, an affront to his own moral code and a slight on his family honour.”
And unfortunately for Bower Ismay, Eustace Loder was a steward at Epsom on Derby Day.
Craganour himself came with baggage of a sort, since he had been at the centre of a controversy in the 2,000 Guineas, when the great majority of spectators were convinced that he had beaten Louvois – even though the judge declared that Louvois had won.
This led Ismay to change Craganour’s riding arrangements for the Derby, replacing jockey Billy Saxby with Johnny Reiff, one of many American jockeys making a big impact on European racing at a time when the standard of home jockeyship was considered generally poor.
Reiff would ride 6-to-4 favourite Craganour in the Derby, with Saxby now booked for Louvois, a 10-to-1 chance. It can be imagined how Saxby felt about that.
On Wednesday, June 4, 1913, all these plot lines came together to produce a sensational denouement, but an event far more astounding was waiting in the wings.
That morning Emily Davison – whose previous episodes of direct action had included attacking a Baptist minister on a train, under the mistaken impression that he was Prime Minister David Lloyd George – bought two suffragette flags at the WSPU office in London. She then took the train to Epsom.
Although the long tradition of Parliament suspending business for Derby Day had by then ceased, the occasion was still England’s unofficial holiday, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators to Epsom Downs.
Davison joined the throng on Tattenham Hill, in the infield just short of the straight, and waited – and shortly after 3 pm the cry went up: “They’re off!”
There are several eye-witness accounts of what happened at Tattenham Corner, none more dramatic than that quoted by Michael Tanner, from one “Mr Turner of Clapham Common,” who was standing on the outside rail at Tattenham Corner – that is, on the opposite side of the track from Emily Davison:
“I noticed a figure bob under the rails. The horses were thundering down the course at a great pace, bunched up close to the rails. From the position in which the woman was standing, it would have been impossible to pick out any special horse. Misjudging the pace of the horses, she missed the first four or five. They dashed by just as she was emerging from the rails.
“With great calmness, she walked in front of the next group of horses. The first missed her but the second came right into her, and catching her with his shoulder, knocked her with terrific force to the ground while the crowd stood spellbound.
“The woman rolled over two or three times and lay unconscious. She was thrown almost on her face. The horse fell after striking the woman, pitching the jockey clear over its head.”
The unfortunate Anmer galloped off into his unlikely entry in the history books, leaving jockey Herbert Jones and Emily Davison prostrate – the former not seriously injured, the latter never to regain consciousness. She died four days later, by which time the debate on exactly what she had been intending by her action had already started to rage – and it continues to this day.
Even as spectators were rushing onto the course to help the stricken, the race itself was producing an all-action climax, with hotpot Craganour and the blinkered rank outsider Aboyeur engaging in a brutal barging match all the way to the winning post, where five horses crossed the line with little more than a length covering them.
Craganour was declared to have beaten Aboyeur by a head, with Louvois and Billy Saxby a neck behind in third, and Great Sport a length further back in fourth – except that Day Comet had finished third on the inside but had not been noticed by the judge and so was not officially placed.
Bower Ismay proudly led in his Derby winner, and shortly afterwards the winner-all-right announcement was made, and the result was official.
For Eustace Loder, there was no time to seethe with resentment that his bête noir had won the greatest race of them all. Having learned that Aboyeur’s connections were not proposing to object, despite their standing to win a great deal of money had their horse been upgraded, Loder consulted his fellow stewards, and they lodged an objection on the grounds that Craganour had caused Aboyeur interference.
Given Loder’s view of Ismay, and given that the witnesses before the stewards’ panel included the aggrieved Bill Saxby, it cannot have come as a complete shock that Craganour was disqualified and placed last.
Such an outcome was highly contentious, with many observers considering that Aboyeur had been as much to blame as Craganour, but it was Aboyeur’s name that was inscribed onto the most historic roll of honour in racing.
Four days after the Derby, Ismay lodged an appeal – but the rules of racing required that any challenge is made within 48 hours of the race, and subsequent attempts via legal channels took Ismay no farther. He was never to own a Derby winner.
As for the horses at the centre of the story, Aboyeur was beaten in his next two races and then sold for 13,000 guineas to the Imperial Racing Club of St. Petersburg, where he disappeared during the Russian Revolution. Craganour was sold to Argentina, where he became an influential stallion.
And in 1918, five years after Emily Davison ducked under the rail, the first women got the vote in the U.K.
SMILING THROUGH THE TEARS
After losing a son, Feherty relies on his support team to live a complex life of his own.
By John Feinstein
June 26, 2018
It’s a rainy night in Georgia, and David Feherty is on fire.
He has been on stage at Atlanta Symphony Hall for almost two hours, and those in the audience of about 1,200 have only stopped laughing when one of his stories brings them to tears of hysteria.
“Tiger Woods is funnier than people know,” Feherty says at one point. “When I was walking with him for CBS, he used to pull the brim of his hat down low so the cameras couldn’t pick up what he was saying—he was convinced everyone watching could read lips.
“One day he says to me, ‘Hey, Farty,’—that’s what he called me—’do you know what you call a black guy flying an airplane?’
“I said, ‘No, what?’
“And he said, ‘A pilot, you f—— racist.’ ”
People can’t stay in their seats, they are laughing so hard. One woman, who has been letting out loud whoops at the punch line of every story, doubles over, unable to stop laughing.
Twenty-four nights a year, Feherty does his act—three nights a week on eight occasions. He does an hour and 40 minutes of straight stand-up, pausing only occasionally for brief sips of iced tea. The stand-up is his life story—told as only he can tell it. It includes a good deal of bathroom humour, plenty of profanity and some poignant moments, especially when he talks about his parents and his wife, Anita.
After the stand-up, he pulls a chair out from behind the desk that is designed to look like the set of his TV show, “Feherty,” and does 20 minutes of Q&A with his audience.
On this night, the Saturday of Masters Week, he is asked—predictably—why he isn’t in Augusta.
“I’d rather be here with you,” he says. Then he points out that he’s no longer with CBS, which has the broadcast rights. What he doesn’t mention is that Golf Channel, which is part of NBC, his current employer, would love to have him there during the week to add some much-needed humour to the shows it does before and after live coverage.
Except that Feherty has an agreement that he doesn’t have to work Masters Week.
“I never felt comfortable there,” he says. “Never had a problem with anyone or anything. I just didn’t feel I could be myself. I was in the clubhouse once in 19 years when I went up to have lunch. That was it.”
Which means he’s telling the truth when he tells his Atlanta audience, he’d rather be with them. That doesn’t mean he isn’t terrified every minute of the evening.
‘THE SWEETEST BOY YOU WOULD EVER MEET’
Very few subjects are out-of-bounds in Feherty’s routine. He talks about his parents, about his first wife, about Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Ken Venturi and Tiger Woods. The only person he doesn’t joke about is Anita.
And there is one subject he won’t go near, if only because he knows if he did, he wouldn’t get to the end of the act.
“He was the sweetest boy you would ever meet,” he says very softly—his voice is rarely louder than a whisper when he talks about him. “He liked people, and people liked him. He had that kind of personality. He was working in a restaurant for a while and doing very well because he had a way with people. He was moving up the ladder there.
“But he got it in his head that he wanted to start a ticket-reselling business. He was going to compete with StubHub. He was a naïve kid in many ways. Lost, really, just lost.”
Feherty shakes his head. “Can you imagine that career move? He was lost in so many ways. Reminded me a lot of me. Which is just one of the reasons I can’t help but feel devastated and guilty about what happened to him.”
On July 29 of last year—Shay’s 29th birthday—the phone rang early at the Feherty home in Dallas. Anita answered. It was Rory, David’s younger son. Shey, his older brother by four years with Feherty’s first wife, Caroline, had died that morning of an apparent overdose at their mother’s home. The coroner would later determine that a mixture of cocaine and alcohol had killed him.
Anita walked the phone into the bedroom where David was still sleeping.
“You need to take this phone call,” she said softly, handing him the phone as he slowly came awake. “It’s Rory.”
It was Rory who then told his father the news. It was stunning, but not completely shocking. On July 4, Anita had gotten a text from Shey saying he needed to go back to rehab. He had never gotten there.
For a year, Feherty had been told by professionals that he needed to stay away from Shey, that he was enabling his drug habit by giving him money. He and Anita had agreed the night before that they would call him the next day—Saturday—to wish him a happy birthday.
“The truth is, I’d broken down on several occasions and given him money again,” Feherty says. “He was so sweet, and I couldn’t say no to him. Plus, like all of us addicts, he was a very good liar. He convinced me the money wasn’t for drugs. I’m sure I knew deep down he was lying, but I wanted to believe he was really on the way to coming out on the other side.
“Not talking to him regularly, not seeing him, was painful. But this …”
He stops, unable to go on.
Feherty’s memory of the rest of the day is blurred. Anita’s is not. “David, Rory and I went to the funeral home,” she says. “Rory did the best he could to take charge. David couldn’t speak—literally. He couldn’t move his mouth. His face was frozen. He was completely paralyzed emotionally. He zoned out completely. I think he had to.”
Somehow, the family has moved on—as best is possible—through the tragedy. Feherty was diagnosed with clinical depression and bipolar disorder several years ago. Not surprisingly, the depression has worsened since Shay’s death.
“It doesn’t get better,” he says. “It just gets farther away.”
Fortunately, Anita instantly recognizes when he is, as she puts it, “heading to a dark place,” and will force him to leave the house—go to lunch with her—anything to change his mind-set.
“He never wants to go,” she says. “And then when we get home, he thanks me for making him do it.”
Rory McIlroy, who has become close to Feherty in recent years, puts it another way: “David does best,” he says, “when he’s thinking about anything but David. It’s why he’s so good with helping others but struggles at times to help himself.”
SUPPORT FROM PRESIDENTS, SOLDIERS AND THE GOLF WORLD
Feherty got through the tragedy, he says, because of the overwhelming outpouring of support he received from his family, from friends like McIlroy and from people around the world whose lives he has touched—often at times without knowing it. Wounded soldiers he’d visited or joined for golf or pheasant hunting (an annual trip Tom Watson helps put together in North Dakota), not to mention the golf world.
Three former presidents reached out to him. “President Bush  and President Obama both sent me beautiful notes,” he says. “President Clinton called. He was unbelievable. Kept telling me what a good dad he knew I was and that if there was anything he could do to help … ”
That was the recurring theme: Anything I can do to help. Watson spent hours with him on the phone and in person. “I just let him talk,” Watson says. “There’s really nothing you can say in that situation. You can’t bring back life. So, you just listen and let him know you’re there—always there.”
McIlroy remembers feeling helpless. “I had no idea what to say or do,” he says. “I finally fell back on just, ‘Whatever you need.’ ”
It all kept Feherty going and keeps him going now.
The pain, he knows, will never completely go away. He has four other children: Rory, who is now 26; Anita’s two sons, Fred, 35, and Karl, 33; and Erin, their 19-year-old daughter who is finishing her freshman year at Oklahoma.
Rory is a member of the Texas National Guard and deployed to Djibouti in May. “I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Feherty says, “and I couldn’t possibly be more frightened.” His eyes cloud. “I can’t even think about the possibility of losing another son. Just can’t think about it.”
Shey ‘was lost in so many ways. Reminded me a lot of me.’ —David Feherty
‘SHE SAVED MY LIFE’
It’s an hour before Feherty has to become Feherty for an audience. He has not paid any attention to the third round of the Masters that afternoon because he knows nothing will be decided until the next day.
He is stretched out on a couch in a tiny room in the basement of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra building. There’s no Internet service, and only by walking down the hall is there cell phone coverage. Feherty knows he’ll hear what’s happening in Augusta soon enough.
There’s a piano against the wall on the far side of the room that Feherty could no doubt play quite well if he were so inclined.
He’s not. He’s tired and eager to get home to Dallas later that night. He’s already been in Little Rock on Thursday and Biloxi, Miss., on Friday.
He eats a few bites of a greasy hamburger and swigs from a bottle of water.
“Right now, I’m almost frozen with terror thinking about what I have to do tonight,” he says. “It’s that way every time I do this. I’m very aware of my ADD, and I worry about losing my place in the middle of a story and standing there with a blank look on my face. I’m absolutely convinced it can happen.”
He has been doing the show for four years. Has that ever happened?
“Lose my place? All the time,” he says. “Totally frozen and unable to go on? Close, but no. Not yet.”
The show was conceived by Brad Jones, a young promoter who, five years ago, convinced Feherty to come to his hometown of London, Ontario, to speak at a corporate event. When Feherty was finished with his talk, Jones asked him: “Have you ever considered doing a stand-up act?”
“Isn’t that what I just did?” Feherty answered.
“What blew me away,” Jones says, “is that nobody had ever approached him with the idea before.”
Jones put together a proposal, and Feherty unveiled the Feherty Off-Tour act in November 2014. Each year, the number of performances has increased and the venues have gotten bigger.
‘I think that his genuine kindness has given him a few more mulligans in life than most people get.’ —Anita Feherty
Feherty, who will be 60 in August, has Anita and Andrew Elkin, his agent at Creative Artists Agency, handle all his finances. He and Anita have been married for 22 years after meeting on a blind date in Dallas in the summer of 1995. Each had been through a failed marriage that had produced two children.
“She saved my life,” Feherty says. “I mean, literally. My life was an absolute mess when we met. I was trying to raise two little boys [Shey and Rory] alone in a two-bedroom apartment. I was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, painkillers and just about anything else you could name. I was running like Forrest Gump and weighed about 150 pounds. When Anita and I went on our first date, I was so thin she thought I was HIV-positive. The first date lasted about half an hour before she walked out after I had reached over, put my straw in her drink and drank from it. Fortunately for me, for some reason, she agreed to go on a second date—to a baseball game.
“I didn’t know the rules of baseball. Neither did she, but I kept asking her questions, and she tried to answer them. Finally, she stood up and said, ‘Would you like something to eat or drink? A hot dog or a beer?’ It was the nicest thing anybody had said to me for years. Honestly. I sat there and thought, I think I’m in love with this woman.”
Anita Schneider had to be convinced to go on that second date. She was a successful interior designer who ran her business from home so she had flexibility to take care of her boys, who were 12 and 10 at the time. She wasn’t looking to remarry. But she was talked into meeting Feherty by a mutual friend, Gary Knott. They were the same age, they were both divorced, and they both had two boys. Worth a try, she figured.
The first night they met, she wasn’t impressed.
“It did cross my mind that he might be HIV-positive,” she says. “Remember, this is when people were terrified by the epidemic. He was much too skinny. Plus, he showed up drunk. When he put his straw in my drink, that was it—I had to leave.”
Through Knott, Feherty asked for one more chance. Knott told Anita that David had promised he’d show up sober. He did—30 minutes early. Anita thought it was charming that he was trying so hard. In the end, though, it wasn’t his humour, which was apparent, or even his charm.
“It was his kindness,” she says. “His kindness outshines everything else. I think that his genuine kindness has given him a few more mulligans in life than most people get.”
Feherty moved in with Anita before the end of the year, and when Shey and Rory were with him—he had split-custody with his first wife—they stayed there, too. He went to South Africa early in 1996 to play the Sun City Tour, one of the few places he still had playing privileges. When he came back a month later, he walked into Anita’s garage, and when she came out to greet him, he said, “Please marry me.”
She said yes, and they were married May 31, 1996. Life got better for Feherty—slowly.
“I haven’t had to write a check for 22 years,” he says. “I have no idea what I’m worth or what anyone is paying me. Anita has allowed me to just do the things I can do without worrying about any of the other stuff. Much more important, though, when the boys and I moved in with her and her two kids, we became a family. That was life-changing.”
So was his career change, from good golfer to unique TV presence. To hear Feherty talk now, you might think he never made a cut as a professional golfer and that he can barely remember which end of a golf club to hold.
“Actually,” he says, “I’m not always certain about that nowadays. I’ve forgotten a lot of things.”
What he does remember is turning pro at 17 after deciding he wasn’t meant to be an opera singer, which is what he aspired to do for most of his childhood.
“I had a good voice,” he says. “I trained and worked at it. But I knew I wasn’t going to be good enough. Of course, I wasn’t good enough at golf, either. I was like a 5-handicap at the time, but I figured I’d try it. I went to work at a club north of London [Mid Herts, where he was paid $10 a week] but came home after a few months because I missed my mom [Vi]. That’s when I went to work at Holywood.”
Holywood Golf Club is most famous as the place where Rory McIlroy learned to play and where his father, Gerry, tended bar and taught his son the game. In his stand-up, Feherty points out that he got to Holywood in 1976, “years before the little bastard was born.”
Feherty adores McIlroy, who adores him. “He is absolutely a product of his parents,” says Feherty, who got to know Gerry and Rose McIlroy while at Holywood. “He hasn’t been changed by fame or fortune. He’s just one of the most thoroughly decent people I’ve ever met. I had nothing to do with him becoming who he is, but I’m just so damn proud of him.”
McIlroy says there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Feherty because he knows there’s nothing Feherty wouldn’t do for him. He often tells the story about Feherty coming to find him after his Sunday meltdown at the Masters in 2011. As soon as Feherty got off the air, he drove to where Rory was staying. In Feherty’s version of the story, he was blown away by McIlroy’s ability to keep the loss in perspective. In McIlroy’s version, he couldn’t believe how quickly Feherty helped him forget what had happened.
“Once he decided I was really OK, he just sat down with me and my friends and basically did a ‘Feherty’ show for us right there,” McIlroy says. “An hour after he got there, we were all literally falling off our chairs, we were laughing so hard.
“He’s a complex and wonderful individual,” McIlroy says. “Anita calls it kindness; she’s right. I’d add compassionate. Kind, compassionate, brilliant—and very, very hard on himself at times.”
‘Tom [Watson] looked at me and said, “You’re not well.” He was right, of course—I wasn’t. I asked him later what it was he saw, and he said, “I was looking at myself a few years earlier.” ’ —David Feherty
A MARRIAGE AND A CAREER CRUMBLE
From Holywood, Feherty moved on to Balmoral Golf Club, where he worked for Fred Daly, the 1947 Open champion and the only Northern Irishman to win it until Darren Clarke in 2011 and McIlroy three years later.
“I was playing with Fred one day, and he hit a ball into a bunker, blasted out and hobbled onto the green,” Feherty says in the act. “He said, ‘I’m really having trouble getting out of bunkers as I get older.’ I said, ‘Fred, you just hit a fine shot there.’ He shook his head and said, ‘I don’t have any trouble getting the ball out of the bunker, I have trouble getting my body out.’ ”
Balmoral was a largely Catholic club, but there were also Protestant members because it was set between a Catholic neighbourhood and a Protestant neighbourhood. “There were never really any problems,” says Feherty, who grew up in Bangor going to a Protestant church three times a week with his family but now describes himself as an agnostic. “People just came there to play golf. But the clubhouse did get blown up twice while I was there.”
Phone calls warning people to leave a building were taken very seriously during The Troubles. Feherty was on the golf course once when a bomb went off. “Very loud pop is all I remember,” he says.
Feherty won five times on the European Tour after getting his card in 1980 and was on the European Ryder Cup team for the famous/infamous War by the Shore at Kiawah in 1991. There, he beat Payne Stewart, 2 and 1, and fondly remembers thinking that he and Seve Ballesteros had truly bonded through the week as teammates—”until I saw him in the locker room a week later in Stuttgart and he called me Donald,” Feherty says. “I was crushed.”
What was truly crushing Feherty during that period was his first marriage, to Caroline DeWit, a beauty queen he had met while playing in South Africa. Shey was born in 1988 and Rory in 1992. In 1993, Caroline decided she wanted to relocate to Dallas; Feherty believed it was because of another man.
Even so, he followed, if only because he didn’t want to be apart from his sons. He had to go to PGA Tour qualifying school to earn playing privileges. He succeeded but never really adapted to playing in America. He did, however, play well enough at Turnberry in 1994 to have a real chance to win the Open Championship. He trailed co-leaders Fuzzy Zoeller and Brad Faxon by two shots after three rounds and shot 70 on the final day, which left him tied for fourth behind Nick Price, who shot 66 to win.
“Looking back now, I don’t think I wanted to win,” Feherty says. “I had a few very makable putts around the turn that if I’d made, I’d have had a very real chance. But I missed them. I’m not saying I tried to miss, I’m just saying subconsciously I just didn’t believe I was good enough to win the Open. I didn’t want the responsibility. I’d had a chance in ’89 [T-6 at Troon], too, and the same thing had happened.”
GETTING A LIFELINE
By 1995, Caroline had left Feherty, and he was about to lose his playing privileges on the PGA Tour. He was drunk or high more often than not and had no idea what he was going to do.
Then, Anita and CBS came into his life—specifically, in the case of CBS, Gary McCord. The two men had never met, but McCord was in the locker room during an opening-round rain delay at The International in 1995. He was there to find players who would come on-camera and kill time for USA, which had the Thursday-Friday cable rights.
“I was there for a while,” says McCord, now one of Feherty’s closest friends. “David was in there telling stories. I knew who he was but didn’t know him. People were falling over laughing while he talked. When we went off-air, I said to him, ‘You ever do any TV?’ He said no. I said, ‘Would you like to?’ He said, “I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Well, if you want to, I’ll be in the tower at 15 tomorrow from 2-5, and if you want to, come on up there.’ I did it as much to keep myself from getting bored because I figured if I had someone to listen to, I’d have to pay attention.”
The next day, when he got to the tower, McCord told long-time CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian that he’d invited Feherty.
“What?” Chirkinian screamed into McCord’s headset. “No way. No way you two f—— guys are going to be together on-air.”
Chirkinian knew Feherty’s reputation for blunt humour.
McCord didn’t blink. “First, it was cable, not the network,” he says. “It was Friday afternoon, small audience. Frank liked to yell and grumble; that’s what he did. Plus, I didn’t even know if David would show.”
Feherty showed. And he blew McCord away. “He just went to places with his answers to questions I never imagined anyone could go,” McCord says. “As we walked down the steps from the tower, I said to him, ‘This is what you’re going to be doing next.’ I knew he wasn’t playing well and was going to need something soon. So, I said, ‘When the time comes, please call us.’ As in CBS, not me.”
Months later, CBS was forced to fire Ben Wright after his politically incorrect comments about why women—in his opinion—struggled to play golf well.
Feherty was sitting in a hotel bar, drinking vodka and Gatorade—”because I was still an athlete,” he says—when he saw CBS producers Lance Barrow and Rick Gentile approaching.
“When they said, ‘CBS,’ I thought they were from ’60 Minutes’ and they were doing a story on golfers and drugs,” he says. “Who better than me to talk to? I was terrified.”
Barrow and Gentile offered Feherty a three-tournament contract to take Wright’s spot for the rest of the year. Feherty was hired full time in 1997.
Getty Images (2) Feherty with his contemporaries on the European Tour (left) during his playing days, which included competing for Europe in the 1991 Ryder Cup.
Having a job he was very good at and a happy marriage didn’t mean that Feherty got sober overnight. When Erin was a pre-kindergartner, Anita came home after dropping her from school one morning and told David if he didn’t get sober, she was leaving him.
He did. For a while. But never for good. He drank so much on a trip to Barbados early in 2006 that he got alcohol poisoning. After that, he and Anita went to an addiction therapist.
Still, he was fighting a losing battle. Then, that summer, he was doing the play-by-play for an exhibition match on Prince Edward Island between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.
Feherty has told the story often about that being a turning point in his life.
“Tom looked at me and said, ‘You’re not well,’ ” Feherty says. “He was right, of course—I wasn’t. I asked him later what it was he saw, and he said, ‘I was looking at myself a few years earlier.’ ”
It wasn’t as if Watson sprinkled magic dust on Feherty and he was cured. Anything but. Feherty wasn’t willing or able—in Anita’s opinion—to handle rehab. Watson found him an AA group in Dallas, and even though it was difficult for Feherty, he went to a meeting every day. Until one day, he didn’t.
“I’d been riding my bike to the meetings every morning,” he says. “That day, I just kept going.”
He was north of McKinney—about 35 miles from Dallas—when he finally called Anita to come and get him.
“I don’t do well in groups,” he says. “I like being alone. When I’m home, I don’t answer the door and I don’t answer the phone.”
“David is OK in a group if it’s on his terms,” Anita says.
“Fortunately, the bike became his addiction. That’s when he got sober.”
Feherty would be up before dawn, ride the bike for several hours, stop for coffee with friends and come home too exhausted to go to any dark places or to think about drinking. “When he wasn’t riding the bike,” Anita says, “he was working on it.”
Unfortunately, he was hit by cars on three occasions on the bicycle. The first accident crushed his left arm so badly he had to give up playing golf. The third one forced him to give up the bike.
But, with a lot of therapy and support, he came out on the other end—sober. If Anita ever thinks things might go bad again, she’d call Watson.
“He was clearly struggling, physically and emotionally,” Watson says of the Prince Edward Island weekend. “I said, ‘I see you. I’ve been where you are. Let me help.’ He was very receptive. It wasn’t an easy process, but he got through it.”
Watson says their friendship really took off when they went to Iraq together in 2007 as part of a trip to entertain the troops, put together by Rick Kell, co-founder of Troops First Foundation, a group Feherty has been extremely involved with for years. When Feherty became an American citizen in 2010, one of the people who flew to Dallas for the ceremony was Watson. In 2016, after Watson played his final round at the Masters, his family threw a party with about 60 friends invited. The star of the evening was Feherty, who was funny and poignant.
“When I was in the abyss, at the bottom of a well I thought I’d never climb out of,” Feherty said that night, “I looked up for help, and the face looking down at me and the hand reaching for me was Tom Watson.”
The first person to tell you that Feherty still struggles with his addictions every day is Feherty. He takes 14 pills a day—seven of them psyche meds—to help him deal with his depression, bipolar disorder and various physical maladies that will never go away.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not sad for at least part of the day,” he says. “And some days, I’m just sad all day. It’s gotten worse since Shey died. Sometimes I just start to cry and can’t stop.”
He stops there and smiles. “And yet, I love my life. I don’t see how I could possibly be any happier than I am right now.”
He left CBS at the end of his contract in 2015 and signed a deal that calls for him to do 16 of his “Feherty” shows each year for Golf Channel, NBC’s golf tournaments and various other events, like the Olympics.
NBC offered more money than CBS—a good deal more—but it wasn’t so much the money as the chance to do some things that were different—including spending some of his time in a tower rather than walking with the final group—that made the deal attractive. Add the 24 Off-Tour dates, speaking gigs, the occasional outing and events for Troops First, and he’s on the road almost nonstop.
“I need it that way,” he says. “I need to be busy. If I’m home for more than a week or so, I start to lose my mind. Most of the time, I like the work. I might be terrified on stage, but I do enjoy it. Once I stop shaking with fear.”
He isn’t exaggerating. “I can see it on stage,” Anita says. “But I also know when he’s really frightened, that’s when he’s at his best. If he’s not, he might lose focus and then, even though he’s still terrific, he’s not as good as he can be—or wants to be. He always knows, even if the audience doesn’t. He’ll come off stage and say, ‘I didn’t have it tonight.’ The crowd is out there screaming, but he knows. He always knows.”
‘There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not sad for at least part of the day. And some days, I’m just sad all day. … Sometimes I just start to cry and can’t stop.’ —David Feherty
A SON LONGS FOR HIS DAD: ‘I MISS HIM’
The evening in Atlanta is winding down. There’s time for one more question. It’s the one everyone who has ever played golf is often asked: “What’s your dream foursome?”
“Jack Nicklaus,” Feherty says quickly. “He’s the one great player of my time I never got to play with.” He pauses a split second for applause. He’s done this before. “Annika Sorenstam,” he continues. “Never played with her, either, and I’ll never forget her first tee shot at Colonial [in a 2003 PGA Tour event], when she hit it perfectly and staggered off the tee because the pressure on her that week was so overwhelming.”
He pauses again. Not for effect or because he’s thinking, but to gather himself. “And my dad,” he finally says. “I’d like to play one last round with him.”
His voice catches. The emotion is quite real. “Happens to me every time,” he says later. Billy Feherty died in November 2016 of Alzheimer’s at the age of 91.
“I miss him,” his son says.
He’s thinking back to his childhood now, and he smiles at the memory of his parents. “They say that humour is a sixth sense if you’re Irish,” he says. “When I was a kid, humour was my defence. I was clearly ADD and wasn’t any good in school except in math and music. Humour was what kept people from making fun of me, from calling me dumb. I’m not sure where I’d be or what I’d have become without it.”
The humour is matchless. But those who know him best will tell you it is the remarkable kindness and the compassion that his wife and friends speak of that makes Feherty Feherty.
And that’s no joke.