David Feherty has made a living from golf commentary and lots of laughter.
Next month, the legendary Golf Channel commentator will make a stop at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club and will bring the best of both worlds together.
Feherty, 63, has always been known for his sense of humor, but he’s the first to tell you that if you can’t laugh at yourself, maybe you don’t have one.
Do you want proof? Well, how about the time Tiger Woods put a little something in his cereal for a charity exhibition contest with Justin Leonard and Curtis Strange?
“The time I did this (exhibition game), and I played, (Woods) shoved some Ex-Lax in my cereal that morning,” Feherty said in an interview this week from his home in Dallas. “Let’s just say it didn’t end well for me around the 11th hole. I had a full ‘Code Brown’. †
Aside from the funny and crappy stories, that’s the great thing about Feherty, he brings out the side of golfers that we don’t always get to see in public.
Sometimes you turn on the PGA Tour on a Sunday and these guys look robotic in their approach. A player like Brooks Koepka doesn’t strike you as having any personality in any way, or having any fun at all.
“(Woods) is really that type of guy (who can have fun),” Feherty said. “Social media is responsible for taking some of the character out of the game. You can’t even give yourself a hard time without fear of getting canceled these days.
“There is a microphone and a camera everywhere, so they have to be very careful. But at the Royal Ottawa (next month) they won’t be so careful, I can assure you.”
On June 6, the Feherty Classic will be held at the Royal Ottawa layout in Gatineau.
Feherty will provide color commentary for a nine-hole game that will see former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, a member of the Royal, along with recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers pivot Ben Roethlisberger, former NFL runner Emmitt Smith and three-time PGA Tour winner Pat Perez.
The event is expected to raise $50,000 for the Ronald McDonald House and The Royal/Mental Health Care. After the round, there is also a comedy show with Feherty and his guests. A similar event will be held the following day at Milton’s Glencairn Golf Club with former Toronto Maple Leafs goalkeeper Curtis Joseph taking Alfredsson’s spot.
Roethlisberger was a late addition to replace former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw, who has health issues and is unable to attend.
“They can expect some cheeky commentary on their golf games,” Feherty said.
This will be a different atmosphere for Alfredsson, Roethlisberger and Smith. Yes, they have played in front of huge crowds in arenas and stadiums, but golf is a whole different challenge because you are the only one who can control the way you play.
There will certainly be nerves with a crowd watching as they turn it down. Throwing a ball to a receiver while 90,000 people watch Alfredsson fire a shot at Joseph from the slot is a different feeling than having time to think as you throw the ball at you with all eyes.
“One of the interesting things is that if you get great athletes like Emmitt Smith, Ben Roethlisberger and Daniel Alfredsson, if you take them outside their own arena and you put them in golf, it’s an unknown sport to them,” Feherty said.
“To see how they react to that situation is an interesting human experiment. It’s the two and a half inches between your ears. These guys are pretty good players. Emmitt is a good player and I have not seen Daniel play, but I hear he is quite good. Ben hits it about 300 yards, but we’re not sure which direction it will go.
Make no mistake, Feherty knows what it’s like to get some embarrassing shots. He did it with the legendary Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros who played in France.
“It was in the south of France and it was the first time I ever played with him,” said Feherty. “It was the early eighties and I hit a clean shank off the second tee with a four iron. I punched a Frenchman right in the bullpen of the twins, I think we could name it, and that’s as embarrassing as it can get.
Raising money for mental health is important to Feherty. He has had his own struggles with bipolar depression and alcoholism. He wants to help people who need help by speaking in public.
“Grief is just sadness, and depression is sadness minus hope,” Feherty said. “You can live without many things; you can live without money, you can live without love, but you cannot live without hope. It’s very important to people in the public eye, like Daniel, who has been very vocal about his support for mental health issues.
“We need to remove the stigma and raise awareness for this because there is so much of it. When people like me, Daniel, Ben, or Emmitt stand up and say, ‘This is how I feel,’ people are a little more open to admitting that they feel that way.”