Last week I told you how I dread the coming winter. One reason I neglected to mention was that it means I’ll be forced to quell my golf jones more frequently with TV. Well, the matter was so important I figured it needed its own column.
I suppose you could say we’re lucky to have so much golf on TV today. When I started playing golf seriously in the late 1980s, there was quite a bit of golf on TV, but nowhere near what we have today. Golf Channel gives us something golf-related 24/7, and between all the pro tours and specialty events, there is some kind of event on just about every weekend of the year.
I think it was better when there was less.
Issue One: Programming
I am wondering if the guys and gals who produce golf shows understand that what we actually like to do is watch people hit golf shots. Yeah, it’s nice to know that Cialis works for up to 48 hours, and I’m glad they’ve warned me about the danger of erections lasting more than four hours (how did I get through my teens?), but can we at least see some golf now and then? They seem fixated on showing us the leaders, which is fine, but it’s probably better to see the guy in eighth place actually hitting a shot than, say, Tiger eating a power bar.
Erik J. Barzeski did a great job cataloging the absurdity of what actually gets shown on a telecast, but even without a stop watch most of us know we’re getting gypped. And another thing about those commercials: can they maybe come up with a few variations? And what’s with the bathtubs outdoors? I understand economics and I know they’ve gotta sell stuff to pay the bills, but this commercial rerun flail amounts to slapping a paying customer in the face over and over with a damp shoelace. Thank goodness for DVRs.
Issue Two: Talking Heads
I’m not going to name names, but to bastardize a slogan, These Guys Are Awful. OK, some of them aren’t so bad, but on the whole, listening to the average golf TV announcer is about as much fun as helping my wife pick out fabric for the new couch. My favorite are the swing analyses. Even with the ultra slow-mo cameras, I am amazed at what these yahoos think they can see in a golf swing. Of course, they just watched the shot, so they know if the face was open or closed by the result. So, they just use whatever swing jargon Tiger Woods is currently using or analyze according to whatever is the current Golf Digest swing theory du jour. And please, once in a while, when a player hits a bad shot, can you say that he mis-hit it, and not that he “eased up” on it or misjudged the wind or whatever else the excuse is?
One final thing – the language on putts and shot shapes drives me crazy. Why does it break “from left to right,” and not just “to the right?” We don’t turn our cars from left to right, or take the gas tank from empty to full, do we?
Issue Three: Over-Golfed
There was a time when I didn’t think this was possible. I would stay up until two in the morning watching 13-year-olds in the Drive, Chip, & Putt. I could watch a Jim McLean lesson without the mute button. I would prefer a Jay Randolph narrated rerun of the 1989 USF&G Classic over an NFL game. But you know, the glass is not half full, it’s over full, and it’s spilling all over the place. There’s too much golf on TV.
I used to disagree with Dan Jenkins’ characterization of the Champions Tour as boring, but, well, he was right. And the sad thing is that Champions Tour events aren’t even close to the most insufferable golf on TV today. I heard a guy describe one of his greatest golf shots as a “better than sex” 2-iron. Well, I agree golf can be exciting, but to use the sex metaphor, the current flood of TV golf is, as another friend said once, like having sex while wearing two condoms. Fun, but not quite like the real thing.
People talk about things like golf equipment being a serious threat to the game. For me, the dilutional devaluation of golf as a spectator sport could be far more damaging to our game in the long run. I don’t care whether you depend on golf for a living or chop it around once a month, if the people running the tours ruin it for fans, we are all in trouble.
Alright, I’m done for a while. Kindly excuse me while I go watch the exciting baseball playoffs. But first I will have to turn my TV from off to on.