He worked for a charity.
On May 18th, Feherty turned up at the 12th Annual Texas Irish American Cup Challenge to serve as the announcer on the 18th green at an event that raised almost $150,000 for various good causes.
Of course, that side of his personality was marked curiously absent from so many of the newspaper articles lambasting him over the past few weeks.
In the first place, the very fact Feherty was one of five well-known personalities asked to write a column for “D”, a Dallas magazine, about former President George W. Bush moving back to the city from Washington, says much about his standing in his adopted state of Texas.
That he subsequently managed to author a typically wide-ranging and wholly irreverent piece was also a tribute to the hugely helter-skelter writing style he has cultivated via his contributions to golf publications through the last decade and a half.
Lost in all the hubbub about the offending paragraph too was the Bangor native’s achievement in somehow managing, in one article, to hold forth on the death penalty, gay marriage, abortion, childhood obesity, and the F-List celebrity status afforded himself by his day-job as CBS’ most colorful commentator.
He also worked in a rather edgy joke about the congressional leadership that turned a beloved golf pundit into the latest left-wing punch bag. Which was unfortunate.
In some quarters, the one-time European Ryder Cup player appeared to briefly replace Bin Laden as public enemy number one. Huffington Post, the popular news website, even described him as “insane.” CBS apologized on his behalf, Feherty issued his own mea culpa and, thankfully, his job looks safe, for now.
“This passage was a metaphor meant to describe how American troops felt about our 43rd president,” said the 50-year old in a clarifying statement.
“In retrospect, it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and has clearly insulted Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, and for that, I apologize. As for our troops, they know I will continue to do as much as I can for them both at home and abroad.”
Unlike so many denizens of the golf world, and as graphically illustrated by the fact he once wrote a book called “Somewhere in Ireland, a Village is Missing an Idiot,” Feherty doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Always evincing a neat line in self-deprecation, including candid and withering assessments of his own drink problem, he has endeared himself to many within the game. It’s not every golf commentator who can pen a column about participating in a farting contest with Tiger Woods during a charity event and remain good friends with the world number one.
Indeed, just about no other television pundit could have got away with describing Woods, however jocularly, as a loser to his face the other week.
“Do you feel like a loser?” asked Feherty live on television after Woods’ disappointing fourth place finish at Quail Hollow.
“I did,” replied the greatest golfer of his generation. “I wasn’t even first loser either.”
Woods laughed because he gets Feherty. He shares his sense of humor and doesn’t take offense when he oversteps the mark. There is also a constituency out there who would have recognized exactly what the mischievous Irishman was trying to do in his column for D magazine.
Ever the non-conformist, Feherty was writing on behalf of those who don’t regard Bush as the root of all evil (the central theme of the column, not that most people actually read the whole way through).
Moreover, he was also, however clumsily and tastelessly, merely pointing out that the regular troops on the ground (with whom he has regular contact through his philanthropic work with the USO) don’t care much for Pelosi.
There is another subtext to all this. Woods’ cameo at last January’s inauguration was the first time a top player was spotted on the Democratic side of the aisle in the modern era. Traditionally perceived as the preserve of the Republicans, professional golf has also suffered more than any other sport in the collateral damage done by the collapse of the financial industry.
Beyond losing title sponsors, the fabric of the game and the attendance at tournaments have both been seriously affected by companies being afraid to spend on corporate hospitality for fear of falling foul of over-zealous Democratic politicians.
The currently ruling party regards so much that exists around golf as one more extension of Wall Street excess while many within the sport see the Democrats as left-wing idealists who don’t understand how much the game contributes to the business life of the country.
In this highly-charged and emotive political climate, Feherty’s misguided attempt at humor, and his unfashionably positive opinions about Bush, were enough to have him derided as typical of golf’s elitist and right-wing views. Which is funny, because he’s really the exact opposite of that.
Witness another colorful excerpt from the offending magazine column in which he derides the very residents of the area in which he lives.
“Even with their Secret Service entourage, the Bushes are going to be besieged by herds of North Dallas McMansion-dwellers, more brown-nosed and full of BS than any longhorn,” wrote Feherty.
“Nouveaux riche and face-lifted old-monied fossils alike will descend upon them like ants to the honeypot every time they set foot outside their door. The area that encompasses the Park Cities and Preston Hollow is home to roaming packs of these social climbers. I’m talking to you, the guy with the champagne flute, the stupid grin, and the trophy wife who, if she has one more facelift, will be wearing a triangular beard.”
That’s not the voice of an elitist. It’s merely the type of comic ranting that has turned Feherty into one of the most popular golf commentators. A standing that probably wasn’t affected any by recent events.