When you seek refuge from the insufferable noise coming from corners of the golf world that have lost their way, you turn to a man from whom honesty pours forth with the fury of Niagara Falls, a man who at 46 had the gumption to put his slap shot of a golf swing alongside the greatest phenom in the sport’s history and show a little something to Tiger Woods.
“We sort of left them there, dazed in the corner, bleeding from the nose with the towel thrown in,” Allen Doyle told Jaime Diaz, the esteemed golf writer at Sports Illustrated who was reporting from the 1994 Eisenhower Trophy in Versailles, France.
It wasn’t so much the 11-stroke U.S. team win or the four-stroke individual triumph by Doyle that caught Diaz’ fancy; it was how Doyle and 42-year-old John Harris schooled Woods and Todd Demsey in a practice round match.
No one gushed more about the aura of Doyle than Woods, then 18. He marveled at Doyle’s “buggy-whip swing,” wrote Diaz, and “developed tremendous respect for Doyle’s fighting spirit.”
Woods would perhaps find comfort in knowing Doyle’s “fighting spirit” is still intact, as a call to him to talk about LIV Golf showed.
“I don’t think anybody is saying (players) don’t have a right to go and take the money,” said Doyle. “But when they try to defend it with all these altruistic reasons . . . no one is buying it. It’s greed.
“They say they’re not going for the money. That’s BS. They want to grow the game. That’s ludicrous.”
Mind you, Doyle was talking only minutes after his morning task – spraying the greens at The First Tee of Troup County near his home in LaGrange, Ga.
You want to talk about “growing the game?” At 74, Doyle was addressing root growth with the grass so that deserving children would have better greens on which to putt. Michelle Doyle is the Executive Director. Her father and mother (Kate) are on the board.
It's not in his job description, but Allen handles agronomy, too.
He is, after all, the man who had to fish balls out of a lake to supply customers at a makeshift driving range he opened, so he knows a thing or two about how golf isn’t available to all.
He is, after all, the man who fulfilled his ROTC duties by serving his country in South Korea, so he knows a thing or two about commitment.
He is, after all, the man who came out of nowhere to dominate the amateur golf scene in the 1980s and early 1990s and chose to turn pro at the improbable age of 46, so he knows a thing or two about overcoming long odds.
But where Doyle truly walks the walk is when he talks about knowing when enough is enough. He is, after all, the man who looked at a $1m bonus in 2001 and said he wouldn’t take it because, well, it didn’t feel right. His earnings that year on the PGA Tour Champions was $2.553m but he was well over $3m when you factored in endorsement deals and sponsorships.
“Now, I didn’t feel guilty, because I didn’t make the rules (about how much money they were playing for), I just played by them,” said Doyle. “But getting another $1m (for winning the Schwab Cup), I’m not saying it didn’t feel right, but it felt more right to give it away.”
Charities near to his heart benefited. He gave to his high school (Catholic Memorial), his college (Norwich University), his church in LaGrange, Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Volunteers of America, and most poignantly, Doyle donated to scholarships for children of firefighters and police officers killed in 9/11.
But he first pointed toward the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund because in his mind, that is where his life got jump-started. He was a caddie at Spring Valley CC, admittedly “not a great student,” yet a member who was active with the Ouimet, Mike Shuman, told Doyle to apply for the scholarship.
“I got $1,000, a quarter of my tuition,” said Doyle. “No way I get that scholarship without that guy pushing me. My grades weren’t great. But I was from a family of seven, and he knew I loved the game. I think he was saying, ‘This is exactly the type of kid who should get the scholarship.’
“That has stuck with me all my life. The game of golf is so much more than dollar amounts. It is the people you meet, the things you learn.”
Allen Doyle hasn’t forgotten from where he came and all those who helped him. He takes pride in that, just as he takes pride in succeeding in a game that demands of you a thirst for competition every time you tee it up. Giving up that passion for competition, he doesn’t understand it.
“But they worked all their lives to become relevant, but with this one decision they’ve made themselves irrelevant,” said Doyle. “They’ve immediately exposed themselves (as players) who can’t beat anybody, who don’t want to go back and work their asses off.”
Given that he is a military veteran and donated to 9/11 charities, Doyle is especially sensitive to where the LIV money comes from. Told that players don’t seem to be bothered by that, Doyle recalled his father.
“My dad told me that every day, a man has to look in the mirror, not once, but twice. In the morning, he looks at himself and asks, ‘What do I need to do today?’
“Then in the evening, he looks in the mirror and reports back. ‘Did I do the right things today?’ ”
No, Doyle was never in position to turn down $10m or $20m or more. But he took $1m that was his and gave it away and on other occasions he turned down $25,000 to $100,000 “because it wasn’t aligned with who I am and how I carry myself.”
He exudes honesty and never did Doyle duck around competition.
“I think there is a void in their hearts and stomachs that they can’t fill,” he said. “And in most cases, they never will fill it.”