In this breathless modern age of relentless scrutiny, knee-jerk hysteria and rampant, rapid-fire reaction, you’ll probably struggle to find much level-headed middle ground.

A couple of dodgy holes from Rory McIlroy at the Genesis Invitational last Sunday, for instance, had violently volatile pundits and punters switching from gushing adoration to withering cynicism like a hyperactive imbecile tugging on a pullcord bathroom light.

And as for Tiger Woods finishing last? The internet is still being soldered back together as we speak.

Pressure and expectation tend to be par for the course at the top end of this game. But those pressures and expectations are hardly new inventions.

When the great Mickey Wright, who passed away at the age of 85 on Monday night, was in her imperious pomp, the demands that came with her pursuit of golfing prosperity and perfection became a hefty burden to bear.


In total, Californian girl Wright won 82 LPGA Tour titles including 13 majors which was just two short of the record accumulation set by Patty Berg.

Between 1961 and 1964, she won 44 times with a remarkable double-digit haul in each of those four seasons. It was a hugely fulfilling, if fatiguing period of plunder.

“It was a lot of pressure to be in contention week after week for five or six years,” Wright would say in an interview with Golf World some 20 years ago. “I guess they call it burnout now, but it wore me out. Unless you’re a golfer, you can’t understand the tension and pressure of tournament play.

“And it was the expectations. It was always, ‘what’s wrong with your game? ‘Are you coming apart?’ Second or third isn’t bad, but it feels bad when you’ve won 44 tournaments in four years.”

Golfing giants Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson would always say that Wright’s swing was the best they had ever witnessed.

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Wright herself would maintain that she “treated hitting a golf ball as an art form.” The power and precision she mustered came from a swing that was as flawless as the Mona Lisa’s cheeks.

“She was the best I’ve ever seen, man or woman,” suggested Kathy Whitworth, who remains the LPGA Tour’s record winner with 88 titles.

“I’ve had the privilege of playing with Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and all of them. And some of our ladies had wonderful swings.

“But nobody hit it like Mickey, just nobody. She had 82 wins, but she would have won over 100 with no trouble if she had stayed on tour.”


She didn’t, of course. The esteemed, grand slam-winning Bobby Jones once said of championship golf that is was “something like a cage. First you are expected to get into it and then you are expected to stay there. But of course, nobody can stay there.”

Jones retired at just 28. Wright would call it a day at 34. “Quitting golf is like quitting cigarettes,” she reasoned. “It ain’t easy.”

Wright achieved her dreams and she did so with great drive, dignity and diligence.

In a furiously fickle game, which can be subjected to all sorts of pesky meddlings from those mischievous gods, Wright chose “not to blame the greens for bad putting, the caddie for bad club selection or the fates for a bad day.”

There’s a lesson in there for all walks of golfing life.