Nicklaus, Phelps headline new Golf Channel season
Monday, February 25, 2013
When I heard that David Feherty was going to open the 2013 season of his eponymous interview show by talking with Jack Nicklaus, my first thought was: How will the Golden Bear react to the host’s scatological humor?
Not to worry, however, a more restrained Feherty visited with Nicklaus at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla.. “Feherty” is one of two season premieres airing on Golf Channel on Monday. It follows the season debut of “The Haney Project,” now in its fifth season.
For more than a half century, Nicklaus has lived a very public life and has never been reluctant to share his opinions. So there’s not much new ground for Feherty to plow. Still, it’s good viewing.
With Feherty, Nicklaus comes across as the favorite uncle you seek out for life advice. The episode is a reminder that Nicklaus is a son of the Midwest, and he still speaks to the values of the heartland, such as when Feherty asked him how he handled losses.
“My dad said to me, ‘Jack, (when you lose) put a smile on your face, make sure that the person that you’re congratulating genuinely thinks that you’re happy for him, and shake his hand firmly, look him square in the eye, and (say) ‘Well done,’” Nicklaus said. “I think that’s served me well in life.”
When Feherty seeks counsel on how to deal with his 87-year-old father who has Alzheimer’s, Nicklaus simply says, “Just love him.”
You probably won’t learn anything about Nicklaus that you didn’t already know, but you might come away with an even greater appreciation of the man, and not just because of his life in golf.
• • •
In “The Haney Project,” Olympian Michael Phelps seeks the counsel of Hank Haney. I’ve run hot and cold on this show. I watched it when I found Haney’s students interesting (Charles Barkley, Rush Limbaugh), and ignored when I didn’t (Ray Romano, Adam Levine).
Phelps is a great, if charisma-challenged, athlete. So Haney is happy: “I’m not usually working with athletes as great as you, so I’m feeling pretty confident in my ability here.” Time will tell whether viewers will be as happy with the choice of Phelps to be Haney’s new lab rat. In the first episode, Phelps comes across as a Type A alpha male in the pool, and a bit of a slacker everywhere else.
When Phelps plays in three pro-ams despite a lack of practice, Haney quips, “That’s a little demanding of someone’s game, especially when they don’t have one.”
The season consists of eight 60-minute episodes. The first episode feels as if it’s about 30 minutes too long, with lots of footage that could just as easily have been cut. For example, the show references “The Inner Game of Tennis,” an influential book on learning theory. We’re told, according to the book, that “athletes perform best when they let their bodies and minds act subconsciously.” Yet six minutes later, Haney is seen reviewing video with Phelps, breaking down his student’s swing, pounding swing thoughts into his head, then manually showing Phelps proper backswing positions on the practice range.
It’s not the most promising start for either teacher or student, but I’m mildly intrigued – enough so to keep tabs on Phelps’ progress throughout the season.