SI: What makes you more nervous, a six-footer or addressing the
This is an article from the Sept. 22, 2003 issue
TF: Talking to the President and very senior leaders is not a
stretch for me. I have a lot of experience doing that. With golf,
on the other hand, I don't play enough to be confident in my
SI: Are there any parallels between golf and life in the
TF: Golf teaches soldiers the value of consistency, of
perseverance and of the importance of learning how to do things
the right way. There are so many lessons in golf worth paying
attention to for those who are in the military. When you hit a
golf shot, you have to accept the responsibility for what you
did. You find the same thing in the military.
SI: What place does the game occupy within the military culture?
TF: There was a time when golf in the military was mostly
officers playing. Nowadays, with more people exposed to the game
and [military] golf courses getting better, there is a greater
diversity of players than I've ever seen before.
SI: Did you join any of your troops on the makeshift golf courses
in Afghanistan or Iraq?
TF: I did see a bunch of youngsters and officers in Afghanistan
and Iraq who took sand wedges with them and played sand shots
during their time off. It was the neatest thing in the world to
see. There are also a lot of those video golf simulators on our
installations in the Middle East, and they get a lot of use.
SI: Running two wars must not have left much time for golf, but
is your game improving since you retired a couple of months ago?
TF: I'm a 100 sort of golfer these days, but six years ago I was
a fair player. I won a tournament shooting 74-80. Golf is a
relaxing thing for me.
SI: Any weapons of mass destruction in your golf bag?
TF: Any weapon I choose from my golf bag these days seems to
bring mass destruction.
SI: Have you ever played speed-golf with President Bush?
TF: I don't think I've played with any player of great notoriety.
SI: So who are your golf heroes?
TF: Harvey Penick taught the game in simple terms, and that is a
difficult thing to do. I like Palmer and Nicklaus because they
are very kind, very gentlemanly and good for the game, and Paul
Azinger is a hero of mine for all he went through with his
cancer. When Tiger plays, I get close to the TV to watch. I hope
people in the military notice his killer instinct on the golf