Soldiering on: Like
game, Feherty’s on-course commentary is
unique and creative.
The breakup left Feherty broke and
devastated. As a golfer he had all the
traits that spell success: brains, of
course, but also discipline, balance and,
above all, focus. Now the last three of
these characteristics had deserted him.
He finished the 1995 campaign 166th
on the money list, then missed the
four-round cut at Q school and lost his
tour card. He spent entire days in bed,
buried in gloom.
His “divorce diet” was coffee, cigarettes and Advil—and
alcohol. His capacity for Bushmills Irish Whiskey was prodigious. He tried to run away from his problems, literally,
jogging 70 miles a week. “I lost 40 pounds,” he says.
“A hundred and fifty if you include my wife.” The dark
clouds lifted when he met an interior decorator named
Anita Schneider, who had two boys of her own. Having
blown their first date—“on the blind date I was blind
drunk”—Feherty won her over on the second. He gave up
smoking, stopped running and remarried in the spring of
’96. The couple’s daughter, Erin, was born two years later,
and in 1999 they were granted custody of Feherty’s sons.
Even with his life back on track, Feherty has continued to
battle despair. He had many of the worst physical symptoms of chronic alcoholism—he had DTs, both the delirium
(hallucinating things) and the tremens (uncontrollable
shakes). “I had all the humiliations that come with being a
lush,” he says. “I wet myself. I vomited on people. The most
destructive part was the self-loathing and the fear—a lot of
being drunk is about always being terrified.”
AP PHOTO/BRIAN BLANCO
He went on the wagon a half-dozen times, sometimes cold
turkey. In 2006, with the help of fellow sufferer Tom Watson,
he sobered up. Feherty says he hasn’t touched a drop since. Is
he ever tempted to drink again? “There’s no such thing as a re-
covering alcoholic,” he says. “You’re either drunk or not drunk.
My alcoholism is out there at the moment doing pushups.”
Feherty replaced drinking with cycling, only to get in three
serious road accidents. The most life-threatening occurred in
2008, about a mile from his North Dallas home. “I got flattened
by a tractor-trailer that tried to overtake me on a stretch of
road where there was no room,” he says. “I was knocked flying
up the road, after which the driver ran over me, crushing my
left arm.” He also broke three ribs and punctured a lung.
“Imagine that!” Feherty says, sighing softly. “I’ve thrice
been hospitalized after being struck by motorized vehicles.
I can’t even classify the mishaps as accidents anymore. At
this point, they’re more like hobbies.” Has he ever consid-
ered changing to a stationary bike? “Then I’d probably get
hit by a stationary truck.”
No longer able to fully straighten his left arm, Feherty
has given up golf. And yet he makes more money now from
equipment endorsements than he did at any point in his
playing career. “People ask me how I can stay current with
the game if I don’t play,” he says. ”I ask them when was the
last time John Madden was tackled?”
Like Madden, Feherty seems born to the medium Norman
Mailer once called a “small, modest malignancy, wicked and
bristling with dots.” Since his very first TV commentating gig
for CBS at the 1996 Sprint International, Feherty has separat-
ed himself from the pack by gently ridiculing convention and
pomposity. “The tour is very overprotective about its brand
and the image of golf as a respectable sport,” he offers. “No
criminals. No gay players.” Feherty refuses to play along.
If you could be any animal,
what would it be?
With my luck, extinct.
It almost goes without saying that he’s not universally
beloved on tour. His relationship with some pros—notably
Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie—has been
testy. “Sure, I’ve said Monty has a face like a warthog that’s
been stung by a wasp, but he knows I like him,” Feherty says,
“What he doesn’t quite understand is why I make fun of him.”
The one player he never mocks is Tiger Woods. In the
eyes of Feherty, Woods’ penile pratfalls are a minor misdeed
that should be left to the jurisdiction of his immediate
family. “When the s--- hit the fan, people were on Tiger like
stink on a dead cat,” Feherty grumbles. “Personally, I don’t
need any explanation from him. There are a lot of ques-
tions viewers want answered, but I can’t think of one that I
haven’t heard asked before.”