In debates about golf, as in debates about politics, people tend to split into opposing armies and dig trenches. I often find myself caught in no-man’s land, seeing and understanding (and taking fire from) both sides. So in this occasional series, which I call “On the One Hand, On the Other Hand…,” I delve into controversies in the golf world not by picking a side but by considering all sides..
On the one hand… Grayson Murray, PGA Tour pro, is frequently a jerk on Twitter. He has feuded pointlessly with other professional golfers. He has flirted with a high school girl. He has offered his — shall we say — undercooked opinion on police shootings. He has exited an argument about world ranking points by saying, apropos of nothing, “I love you @realDonaldTrump #MAGA.”
On the other hand… according to Ryan Lavner’s excellent profile over at GolfChannel.com, Murray’s Twitter antics stem in part from his struggles with depression and social anxiety. Clearly the guy is a battler, and he deserves respect for advancing to the highest levels of a game that requires supreme mental toughness.
On the other other hand… living with mental illness and acting like a jackass are two different things.
On the one hand… fans often complain that most pro golfers are reticent and vanilla in their interactions with the public. Say what you want about Grayson Murray, but the man is not unengaged or uninteresting. Maybe we should give him some leeway.
On the other hand… it’s not like Murray is doing us a favor by being open and honest on social media. His mouth has made him far more famous than his play has warranted. Surely he will benefit from that name recognition down the line, if he hasn’t already. So why shouldn’t his Twitter fiascos be fair game for critics?
On the other other hand… Murray seems compulsive in seeking out negative attention. Being part of that dynamic should feel icky.
On the one hand… in dealing with the public, Murray often borrows from the playbook of his favorite politician: say something outrageous, present self as victim during blowback, denounce press for reporting on it.
On the other hand… occasionally the golf media isn’t fair to Murray. In his mostly entertaining recap of the Memorial Tournament for the No Laying Up website, Chris Solomon relayed a number of rumors about Murray’s on-course conduct that turned out to be a mixture of half-true and untrue. Solomon published corrections but, as far as I saw, did not apologize. He should have, and Murray was within his rights to blow up NLU’s spot more violently than he ended up doing.
On the other other hand… Murray has now been the subject of a nuanced, 4,500-word profile in which he gets to explain his behavior at length without expressing regret or really taking responsibility for it. Decent PR for a guy with one top ten and a triple-digit FedEx Cup rank.
On the other other other hand… the article is no puff piece, yet Murray tweeted it out and thanked Ryan Lavner for “taking the time to get to know me.”
Ultimately… Grayson Murray is a talented golfer. If he gets his head right, he will win, and winning takes care of… well, not everything, obviously, but a lot of things.
Am I rooting for him?
Ugh, I don’t know. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not.