Favorite

Sip it, grip it, rip it 

Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.

click to enlarge LONG JOHN: Daly susses out a shot, sporting made-to-order pants in "love lamp" from his signature brand of golf apparel, "Loudmouth."
  • LONG JOHN: Daly susses out a shot, sporting made-to-order pants in "love lamp" from his signature brand of golf apparel, "Loudmouth."

If John Daly hadn't existed, nobody would've had the balls to invent him. He rocketed to fame in the 1991 PGA Championship as a 25-year-old nobody who began the tournament as the ninth alternate, who learned only at 2 a.m. the night before that he would even be playing that week. To watch "Hit It Hard," the hourlong "30 for 30" documentary on Daly debuting Nov. 1 on ESPN, is to remember anew what a novelty he was. Dardanelle's own, Daly projected country kid onto a country club game, becoming an instant folk hero. Then we spent the next 25 years watching him win at golf and lose so many other battles with himself.

We know the Daly at 50, the one who shows decades of hard living and hatless golfing on his craggy face. Under lights, in a garishly patriotic blazer, he explains his life as part confession, part matter-of-fact myth-spinning. He's contrite, for the most part, about the arrest for menacing his first wife during a drunken, house-trashing rampage. Yet he will explain his eight-figure gambling losses with a sort of shrug, explaining that high-stakes blackjack was a substitute for the adrenaline rush of golf tournaments. "Some people just never grow up, and I can say I'm probably one of 'em," Daly offers in the film.

Yet the filmmakers — David Terry Fine and Gabe Spitzer — seem less interested in a salacious dive into Daly's addictions than a reckoning with how those traits built Daly into the legend he became. The dude has gone through a couple of rough relationships — who hasn't? And, yes, the man enjoys a beer now and then, a tough situation when full-blown alcoholism overshadowed his considerable talent many times in the past 25 years. Also, he's smoked since his days at the University of Arkansas; what began as a way to keep his weight down turned into an emblem of rural rakishness when he was puffing a cig on the course, cornsilk mullet flowing, high-fiving fans as he walked between holes. Oh, and when he tried shutting off any of these vices, he turned immediately to chocolate. Also, he used to crush the ball off the tee like no one else. And he has released two country albums. Mostly, he seems like a pretty decent guy. Pulp novel stuff, this guy.

You can never quite trust Daly's hindsight, though. He fell in love with the times when he was a borderline mess, because his freakish talents brought him glory and fortune even as he was keeping a pretty steady buzz on. It's a trap to celebrate a self-destructive athlete for his self-destructive behaviors, but we all nurture nostalgia for the younger versions of ourselves who, above all else, did us the favor of surviving till now.

You see Daly now signing autographs and posing for photos, cigarette perched in his lips, by an RV in a Hooters parking lot, and you think, "There goes an American hero," but it's an exercise in melancholy to watch the 1995 British Open, Daly's other major championship win. The gusts at St. Andrews have his windbreaker slapping about like a sail, and his hair plastered across his skull as surely as if he'd discovered a comb. He won that day in grueling conditions, and only after his nearest opponent, Constantino Rocca, hit a miraculous 60-foot putt to force a four-hole playoff. Unflappable and strong, he was absolutely the best golfer in the world that week. You have to wonder how much more often Daly could've been the best, if he'd stayed sober and healthy throughout his career. And then you wonder whether, in fact, you would've much cared to watch that version of John Daly play golf at all.

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation