Jay Talking

Green, the colour of indecision

-- ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE
-- ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE

The profession of golfer Rory McIlroy is perhaps a telling hint why he called off his impending nuptials

Another week, another high-profile couple calls it quits in somewhat intriguing circumstances.

I sometimes feel that celebrities date each other for no other reason than to provide journalists with material - not that I am complaining.

This week, I wanted to do some in-depth analysis on the conscious uncoupling of golfer Rory McIlroy and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki to see if we can develop a greater appreciation of the intricacies of human relationships by mildly mocking celebrities.

These two young stars had been heralded as the new sports power couple.

Both had at one point been the best in the world at their sport and there was much cheer when five months ago, they announced on Twitter that they would be getting married.

Things seemed to be going along smoothly until last weekend, when they went through an activity that would stress any relationship: sending out wedding invites.

To be fair, theirs was a relationship with many challenges.

Sports stars travel a lot and when two elite athletes start dating, the amount of travel doubles - on the assumption that when you are engaged to someone, you also suddenly become his biggest fan and have to attend all the games.

On top of that, McIlroy is a Manchester United fan while Wozniacki supports Liverpool. (On a side note, it was somewhat interesting they both turned to their respective football teams for solace after the split. Wozniacki had heaps of Liverpool fans tweeting to tell her that she will never walk alone while McIlroy went to play golf with three Manchester United legends. I know which one I prefer.)

Anyway, the point is that these two somehow survived their trials for more than a year. Days after sending out wedding invites, however, the whole house of cards came falling down.

To hear them tell it, it was all McIlroy's fault.

"The problem is mine," he said "The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn't ready for all that marriage entails."

That point bears repeating: McIlroy worked out his readiness for marriage only after the two sent out cards inviting people to their wedding.

Throughout all the preceding steps - dating, buying a ring, proposing, picking a date, booking a venue, selecting the font for the invite, sticking stamps on hundreds of envelopes - he still thought he could go through with it.

And it's not like he had to think about it for a long time. They sent out the invites and then something snapped. He was suddenly sure he wasn't ready for marriage. What is going on here? How does any of this make sense?

I think the answer lies in the fact that McIlroy is a guy who plays golf for a living. Once you understand the psyche of golfers, you begin to see that this behaviour is almost natural to him.

Now, I am not defending McIlroy. I still think he pulled a douchebag move. I'm only trying to explain why he is predisposed to douchebag-like behaviour.

First, let me get something out of the way. When a guy says he is not ready for marriage, this is normally a lie. What he is trying to say is, he is not ready for marriage to you. He can totally picture himself marrying someone hotter and richer.

Now everyone knows that guys are terrified of commitment. Well, golfers are even worse at it. Have you ever seen one try and commit to a putt?

Before a golfer will even approach the ball, he must squat anywhere between 18 and 35 times at different positions around the green. He must perform a full geological survey of the green and environmental impact study of the area before he thinks he is ready to hit the ball.

And sometimes, even when he has gone through all that squatting and is standing over the ball with a putter ready to strike, he can sometimes decide he needs to do more study of the grass.

A standard pro golfer putting process goes something like this: Circle the ball carefully as if it is a suspicious package left on the MRT train, squat, squat again, look at the hole, discuss the geology with your caddy, engage in some group squatting, check wind direction, squat, position yourself over the ball, bend the knees, shake your bum three to five times, consider if you need to squat further, miss the shot.

Yes, your pro golfers miss a surprising number of easy putts despite the tremendous amount of study. And so they learn that before they make a simple commitment like hitting a ball into a hole, they have to go through a long, careful deliberative process which will likely still end in double bogey tears.

You cannot expect your average pro golfer to commit to anything. Why do you think golf pants are so ugly? They know golfers cannot decide which colour they want so they just chuck every colour on the one pair of pants.

Clearly for McIlroy, the invitation- sending was the final squat.

The point where all previous doubts and missed putts came bearing down on him, causing him to behave like an idiot.

So what did we learn from this episode? My personal bottom line is this: Too much golf will ruin your life.

jeremyau@sph.com.sg