Yesterday Pat Summitt had a hole-in-one.
The first thing that occurred to me when I heard about that 112-yard seven-iron shot that had rolled into the cup was that Ms. Summitt, like anybody else who knocks a golf ball into the cup with a single shot, must have been very lucky.
This seemed ironic, because the acclaim that had come to Pat Summitt before she stepped down as the women’s basketball coach at Tennessee had been the result of determination and hard work. Summitt presided over 1089 wins and eight national championships. She was the first coach of a women’s team to make a $1 million a year, which is exceptional, since when she began coaching basketball at Tennessee, it was basically as a volunteer – that’s with a lowercase “v”. She also made sure that all her players graduated, which must have sometimes been very hard work indeed.
But then I read about what one of Summitt’s playing partners had to say about that hole-in-one. ESPN analyst Debbie Antonelli claimed that since stepping down in April as head coach at Tennessee following the diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Summitt had been playing quite a bit of golf. One supposes she’d been enjoying it, but playing quite a bit of golf constitutes working at the game. In Coach Summitt’s case, this figured.
The hole on which Summitt had her ace is apparently one where you can’t see the cup from the tee, so nobody was sure the hole-in-one had occurred until they’d looked into that hole. At that point, according to Debbie Antonelli, Pat Summitt’s reaction was “humility mixed with excitement.”
I don’t buy it. Come on. Isn’t it obvious? Pat Summitt had retired as a head basketball coach. She needed another world to conquer. That she did it yesterday with a seven iron was no more a matter of luck than were those 1089 wins, those eight national championships, and that 100 percent graduation rate. She’s Pat Summitt. She’d worked at golf just as she’d worked at basketball. She probably knew the ball was going to roll into the cup the second it left her club.