Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after finishing the first round of the WGC Cadillac Championship golf tournament on Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Doral, Fla.
Photograph by: Wilfredo Lee , Associated Press
The first thing you notice about the iron Rory McIlroy cast into the water after dunking his approach shot at Doral’s eighth hole Friday was that he throws right-handed.
Also, that he turns nicely on the follow-through, with his belt buckle pointing at the target, just like in his regular swing.
Critics say he may have pulled his throw a little, and the club sailed left of his intended line, but this is quibbling. It was a rare enough occurrence on the PGA Tour that it deserves close to full marks, if only because it was the world’s No. 1 player losing his mind and sacrificing a club.
This brings up an interesting point about what does and does not qualify as a really serious club-throw.
Tossing a putter 20 feet in the air after a lip-out and catching it again doesn’t count. Tossing a putter or wedge or iron in the general direction of where your caddie has set your bag down doesn’t make it, either.
To qualify, a PGA Tour player — or even a normal human being — has to really helicopter the offending instrument, in the style of Tommy Bolt, who set the standard for lack of anger management in the 1950s and ’60s, and authored the definitive how-to quote: “If you toss a club backwards, you’ll just have to run back and get it.”
As a frequent sufferer from disobedient golf clubs, I have had to discipline several in the 50 years I’ve been playing the game — once throwing a putter 30 feet up a tree at Banff, once casting a putter far into a farmer’s field where I hoped it would be run over by a harrow, a couple of times using a handy water-hazard. Only once did an errant throw hit a pull-cart and break the shaft.
The point is, it’s a polite game meant to be played by people with nicely-controlled temperaments, but I find that apologizing later to playing partners generally does the job.
Meanwhile, that treacherous club will have learned its lesson, and best of luck to it in its watery grave.