I do give Rory some slack. For one reason:  He’s 23!  To be No. 1 in the world at anything is tough but at 23 it is unimaginable. But this is golf and there are two things we can’t do: cheat and quit. He’s certainly not a cheater, I hope today does not forebode the latter.

In baseball, if you’re the starting pitcher and you’re getting shelled, they take you out. In boxing when one fighter is being beaten senseless by the other, they stop the fight.

But in golf, we just keep golfing our ball until we hole out on No. 18.  It’s the nature of the beast and why it remains the ultimate test of character.  There is no dugout, no early showers, no dressing room or penalty box to slip into.  You just stand there and look foolish in front of millions.

Bobby Jones once picked up his ball and ripped up his card at The Old Course at St. Andrews. He regretted it for the rest of his life. But we came to love Jones because of his character — character he learned from that and other lessons the hard way.

Golf is a metaphor for life. The very same emotions we go through every day in life we go through in a four hour round of golf. Sometimes golf, like life, just gets the best of us. I’m guessing that nobody feels worse this weekend than Rory. He will learn from this because he is a fine young man. And when he gets those wisdom teeth out, he’ll get the wisdom to learn this lesson.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional and advanced certified instructor, a distinction held by fewer than 2 percent of all PGA Professionals. He is recognized as one of the top instructors in the country, and holds no less than seven PGA awards including "Teacher of the Year" and "Golf Professional of the Year." Dennis directs his own academy in Naples, FL. He can reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

Dennis holds two degrees in education and has worked with golfers of all levels for over 30 years. A native of Philadelphia, Dennis currently directs the Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.

GolfWRX Writer of the Month: April 2014, May 2014


  1. Spare me this sanctimonious nonsense. Bobby Jones was not loved because of his “character.” He was loved because he was a winner. We do our society a disservice when we conflate athletic prowess with moral fortitude, and we do it far too often. To suggest that McIlroy’s behavior last weekend provided us a window into his soul would be as foolish a thinking that Tiger’s smile on the 18th of Augusta afforded the same.

  2. Rory has shown he can blow out fields at his best, but he seems to lack the mental toughness of Tiger who happened to win a US open with a torn tendon in his knee. I like Rory, he seems a lot more modest and if a European player has to be number one in the world I’m glad its him and not Garcia or Poulter. The US players have shown up to play this year and my hope is that one of them can grab the number one spot back and pound on Europe leading into the next Ryder Cup.

    • No one is saying Rory cares. The writers are simply saying he should care. When he, and Tiger, and anyone else quit due to a terrible round it takes away from the game of golf. I 100 percent agree with Dennis Clark, that golf is a test of character. If you want to be the greatest you should have the character and respect for the game not to wd anytime you are about to shoot an all time high round. While Rory may not care, he should care, and he should want to show he is the best player in the world, even if he is having a bad day at the office.