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Grayson Murray, a 27-year-old PGA player with four years playing on tour, took to social media to ask for help in battling alcoholism over the weekend. Murray has one win in his PGA career (2017 Barbasol Championship), but has made just seven cuts this year and has fallen to 457th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He says that neither the PGA commissioner’s office nor the Players Advisory Committee has offered any support. In fact, he says, the PGA has been more interested in collecting fines than trying to help one of their players succeed.
“I’m a recovering alcoholic,” Murray said. “No, the PGA Tour didn’t force me to drink, but the Tour never gave me help. In my 5 years of experience of being on Tour, not once have I ever had a request been acknowledged by the commissioner or the PAC [Players Advisory Committee] other than ‘we will get back to you.’”
Murray also says that life on tour is “absolutely awful” for him.
“Not once in my 5 years of being a member has reached out to me with advice or help on how to deal with the life of becoming a PGA Tour pro,” Murray said. “All they want to do is pour money into the top 10 guys they promoted…
“The next f— up I have, [I will have] 20k forked up from my pocket [in fines]. The f— up I had with the Tour was being drunk in a hotel bar In Hawaii that caused no scene whatsoever. Why was I drunk? Because I am a f—— alcoholic that hates everything about PGA Tour life and that’s my scapegoat…. And the Tour’s first response of a scenario they had no knowledge about was to try and take money from me. I hope not only [that] the PGA Tour steps up in the areas they need to step up [in], but I also hope people are held accountable in the roles they serve.”
Phil Mickelson, arguably the tour’s biggest star not named Tiger Woods, responded publicly to Murray’s cry for help.
“I’m sorry playing the Tour has been so overwhelming and if I can help in any way I’d be happy to,” Mickelson said on Twitter. “It’s not an easy life for sure, and even winning every year can bring about other challenges. FYI ‘we will get back to you’ is the only response I’ve ever gotten too.”
The situation raises interesting questions about the role of governing bodies in extremely high-value careers like golf, where participation is entirely based in continued performance and merit. Detractors from Murray’s pleas would likely say that professional sports is a massive privilege, and the leagues that manage them only have a responsibility to the product itself. Sympathizers, conversely, would argue that the entire product improves when the best players have resources at their disposal to function properly.
Both sides make valid points, and in a way, the debate runs parallel to the arguments being made in the entire sphere of public consciousness right now: is success a byproduct of individualism, or of collective structure? Do individuals succeed based on their own merit (which can cause ruthlessness), or do they succeed based on the support of the groups around them (which can cause faux-victimization and forfeiture of liberties)?
Honestly, the answer is always a bit of both, which is why public discourse feels so broken at the moment. Specific circumstance dictates specific results, but we as humans like to extrapolate the life experiences we specifically encounter, and then form sweeping opinions about life, itself.
All that is ever truly controllable is our attitude; not our merit-based outcomes (you can’t win ’em all), and certainly not our collective structures–you have to make the best of the hand you’re dealt. The key to a successful life is learning to appreciate challenges and reframe setbacks as opportunities. Whether Grayson Murray is right or wrong about the PGA‘s role in his life is irrelevant. The only thing that will change his life for the better is the realization that his attitude dictates his outcome.
Could the PGA benefit from coaching this resilient mentality into their young golfers via programs or support groups? Absolutely. Could Grayson Murray embark on a personal journey of self-love without the PGA, a journey that would serve as a lifelong point of pride, as well as change his life tremendously? Absolutely. The poisonous drip of anger and resentment is all that currently keeps him from transcending the need for structures around him to prop him up, but until that responsibility is taken, addicts like Murray face a vicious cycle of blame, despondency, and self-loathing.
It’s funny how life begins to work for you when you begin to work for you. The structures around us always seem to adhere to the attitudes within us. And soon, if positive strides are made toward reconciliation, things start to click and get easier. Murray’s cry for help was still punctuated with outward blame, yes, but it was a step in the right direction because it also revealed a momentary willingness to put aside anger, and instead be vulnerable. From vulnerability, a sense of humility arises: we realize we need others in this life, while also realizing that the real support must occur within.
Unsurprisingly, because of the brief compassion he showed himself by asking for help, Murray’s call was immediately met with equal compassion by a fellow golfer in Mickelson, who is no stranger to pressure himself. We could be witnessing the first chapters of a tremendous comeback story, one of love and perseverance, and it will be because Murray chose a bit of humility in a moment of tremendous weakness. Sometimes, just a little push is enough to move a mountain.
The more Grayson Murray releases the anger that pervades him, and then channels his energy into appreciating his opportunities in golf and life alike, the more likely he will transcend the need for others to prop him up. Once that occurs, a funny thing will follow: those groups that he hates in this moment will all flock to him as the object of attention he has always craved. Everything he desires begins with him, inside of him. I’ll be pulling for him; hopefully, he’ll be pulling for himself, as well.