This was the most embarrassing moment Tom Brady has experienced on national television in his athletic career. Three losses in the Super Bowl doesn't compare to the heavy pit he must have felt in his stomach as he hacked his way through the opening holes of The Match. At least in football he knows he's good. In golf, at least yesterday, he stunk. And yet, that was exactly what the sport of golf needed. It needed a hero to be brought down to earth and then rise from the ashes. Tom Brady proved to be the perfect sport.
Shanks. Skulls. Duffs. Pushes. Pulls. Brady did everything a golfer is supposed to avoid. He also holed our for birdie, drained another birdie putt and won the long drive competition playing alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
That's what golf is like for 98% of the population. There's good and bad. Many times on the same hole. It's also what makes golf great and why we keep playing. You never know when your moment is going to come. Brady's just happened to come on national television moments after Charles Barkley talked smack to him.
More importantly than hitting a few nice shots, Brady didn't take it too seriously. He joked about busting the seam of his pants open while pulling his ball out of the hole. He told Peyton Manning he was going to step on his Tennessee mascot head cover. Brady talked smack to Barkley and Brooks Koepka and anyone else who made fun of his rusty game. He told a funny prank story about his feet getting dyed by Drew Bledsoe. When Brady hit a bad shot, he laughed it off. He had to. There were a lot of them.
As a superhero-esque character dressed in a helmet and pads on Sunday, it's rare we see this side of Brady. He's singularly focused on the football field. He's also extremely talented. Off it, he's handsome, married to a model, has a loving family and can control the narrative about who he is and how he should be perceived. But on the golf course, he couldn't hide from reality. He's a hacker. If he had more time to practice or got in more rounds during the year, he could be better. What golfer doesn't say the same thing?
The governing bodies of golf have been trying to figure out ways to make the game cool for years. They've marketed the young stars like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler as celebrities as much as players. They've highlighted famous musicians and actors who play in pro-ams and shown as many celebrities at the events on TV as possible. They've given Steph Curry and Tony Romo free entries into professional events because they're such talented golfers. But what they needed was a superstar athlete to do what Brady did during The Match: be a regular player and not take it too seriously.
Brady made golf more approachable. Now when you hit a bad shot, you can say, "hey, at least I'm not worse than Tom Brady." It makes you feel better about your own game and allows you to compare yourself to one of the best athletes of all time. There aren't many other areas you can say that about Brady, but golf just gave us that opportunity, and it's all because Brady gave the game a human face that's relatable from a skill position too.