The competitive spirit needed to reach the top of their profession, however, isn’t quelled because of the cause. So whenever an event such as this one takes place, winning – or some version of it – is never far from their thoughts.
“It is for charity and let’s not forget that or minimize that,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “But I think if we were playing tiddlywinks there would be a competitive element of it. This is another environment for us to compete and there may be … some things on the line.”
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton has been known to play a little golf, although he was not willing to put himself next to Whisenhunt, saying Whisenhunt is “probably PGA Tour-quality NFL golf, and I am Nike Tour NFL golf.”
That didn’t mean he wouldn’t challenge Whisenhunt or some of his other cohorts on the course (the entire coaching staff took part). That’s to be expected.
“I think it’s all pretty much for fun, but some of our coaches have a little bit of a sneaky way about them,” general manager Rod Graves said. “After that first tee, it really gets competitive, but mostly we are here to benefit a great cause on a beautiful day on a beautiful course, all the things you cite when your golf game isn’t worth a (darn) like mine.”
Sneaky? Perhaps Graves refers to the rubber snake assistant head coach Russ Grimm says he carries on the course with him, a running gag that Whisenhunt said was just dated.
With the ability of Whisenhunt on the course, “you have to resort to different tactics,” Grimm said. “I carry the snake in the bag, I may make a noise in his backswing. It’s all accidental. But if it affects his shot, so be it.”
Horton acknowledged the ability to give to charity was fulfilling, especially when it could be done through golf. The Cardinals also hold a bowling tournament for the same reason, noted Grimm, and the will to win seeps out there too.
There is also the drive to conquer the game itself, which, as anyone who has every played golf knows, is impossible.
“I think that’s what keeps me playing the game,” Whisenhunt said. “I get frustrated all the time. It is confounding to me one day you can play well and the next day under similar circumstances you can play awful. You are always working and trying to get better. Hopefully it will be a good day today.”