A Taste For Unvarnished Truth Distinguishes Dahmen
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA | Fresh off a nine-hole practice round with Rory McIlroy, Joel Dahmen arrives at Riviera Country Club’s chipping area dressed in the same gray hue blanketing the Los Angeles sky.
The outfit blends into its background with ease. But Dahmen (pronounced DAY-men) is otherwise a contrarian by nature. He’s unabashedly transparent with his thoughts, lacking the guarded and measured methods of most tour players. He occasionally wears a bucket hat, a la Kirk Triplett, to stand out.
How he got to this point, a 31-year-old now in his third year on tour, doesn’t resemble the way others have, either.
It never looked like he would be here, standing underneath one of the most famous clubhouses in golf, playing in the star-studded Genesis Open, but here he is.
Growing up on the Washington-Idaho state border, Dahmen’s talent matched or exceeded that of the best players in the Pacific Northwest. But ability, like honesty, has never been his issue. It’s the rest of life he’s had to contend with, the dark moments starting when his mom, Jolyn, battled and eventually succumbed to pancreatic cancer as Dahmen was finishing high school.
It began a span of several years in which he spiraled. He played for the University of Washington but dropped out after one year. He spent more time drinking and playing Mario Kart than going to class.
“It was a weird time in my life,” Dahmen remembers. “I had just lost...
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