This month David Feherty is speaking at the Golf Industry Show for the second time in four years.
My question for show organizers is: “What took you so long?”
Feherty is golf’s best personality. His charming wit, inquisitive style, and knowledge of the game and its people have served him well over the years as a television on-course reporter, studio analyst, talk show host and magazine columnist. But his best work is done far from the bright lights and keen eye of the camera – and that’s unfortunate, because we do not get to see the true quality of this Irishman who has an incredible zest for people and life.
I first met Feherty nearly two decades ago in my communications activities representing the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and its members. I would get to know him better in my role of identifying and securing keynote speakers for the Golf Industry Show (I doubt those in attendance at the 2011 Golf Industry Show will ever forget his presentation – wow!).
It was a highlight of my work to visit the CBS and Golf Channel compounds because he was most gracious when he would meet the host superintendent and take our media notes in support of the broadcast. Years later, when his production assistant called one day looking frantically for a specific tournament fact sheet, I learned just how important he found the GCSAA information. I was told this was always the first page of his notes packet in working tournaments.
To see Feherty work the television compound was a hoot. His humor was always on display. But he never took himself seriously, and did not let rank or title impact his interactions. He treated everyone – the network president, announcers, technicians, makeup artists, interns – the same. He made them feel important and good about the work they do. There is no “big-timing” in his repertoire. Oftentimes Feherty would conduct the interviews with the superintendent on the Golf Channel, and by the end of the session the two would become fast friends. He made it a point to get to know the superintendent and put them at ease before they got on camera.
I assume the vast majority of, if not all, superintendents have a healthy dose of respect for Feherty, because he almost always mentions the work of superintendents on telecasts. His address at the 2011 GIS left no doubt (and no dry eyes) about his appreciation of those who manage the game’s playing field. You might be aware that he regularly visits the maintenance facilities during tournament weeks. His gratitude is real and genuine.
If you really want to stoke Feherty’s emotions, just ask him about the men and women in the military who protect our freedoms. He has spent countless hours supporting the Wounded Warriors project and the Folds of Honor Foundation in support of those individuals who were injured or killed in combat and their families. His passion for what they do and what the United States stands for compelled him to become a U.S. citizen in February 2010.
Feherty’s love of people and those who protect us is no doubt a result of the emotional and physical challenges he has faced. He’s open in talking about his bouts with depression and alcoholism with the hope that he can inspire and help others. He knows all too well the frailty of human life, having nearly lost his life when he was struck while riding a bike in 2008, and is never reluctant to lend a hand.
For all that he does, I can’t recall Feherty ever seeking attention or adulation for his work. In fact, he regularly downplays his talents, intelligence and character.
I wouldn’t suggest that we learn to imitate Feherty in all that he does – nobody has the energy to match him – but I have to think that if we took to heart his love of life and how he treats others, we might enjoy ourselves a little bit more, and perhaps make a difference in the lives of others.