News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rub of the Green

July 14, 2007

Rub of the Green: Miller’s book provides great insight into this crazy game

TERRE HAUTE — There are those who dislike Johnny Miller’s “say it like it is” style when it comes to the manner in which he telecasts golf tournaments.

There is, however, another school of thought as evidenced by this remark, “I wasn’t at all surprised when Johnny became the game’s best TV analyst”. That statement is attributed to none other than Jack Nicklaus.

No doubt about it, Miller tends to avoid any sugar coating, and if some feathers get ruffled, so be it. One player who doesn’t like a shred of criticism directed his way is Tiger Woods. I’m certain Miller was crossed off Tiger’s Christmas list when Johnny took him to task for “as vile a stream of profanity as I’ve ever heard on a golf course.” This quote comes from the first paragraph of Miller’s book, “Johnny Miller, I Call the Shots.”

This is not to say that Johnny Miller hasn’t had some criticism directed his way at times. He voiced his opinion in referring to one pro’s fundamentals. He said, “If Ben Hogan could watch this guy swing a golf club, he would puke.” Some felt a better metaphor should have been used.

It’s quite possible Miller was influenced by the late, renowned English broadcaster, Henry Longhurst. I recall watching a tournament in which a professional cold-topped a tee shot that rolled about 30 yards from the tee box. Longhurst then observed, “That is probably the worst stroke I’ve ever seen made by a professional golfer.” That statement would undoubtedly cover a lot of ground.

To say that Miller takes shots at his fellow professionals only is not true. He’s as hard on himself as he is on anyone else. He admits to being a choker. In fact, Johnny writes, “I choked so many times over the years that it’s a joke. It started with my putting at age 19.” Miller also recounts the seven situations that bring about a choke; they include: fear of certain types of trouble, going for a personal best, playing for the team, fear of success, fear of failure, confronting the weakest link and that thing called putting.

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