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Golf Announcing, Gerunds, State of the Game, a Stream of Consciousness

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nevets88

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Lord, I was born a ramblin' man - The Allman Brothers

Yesterday, Jim Nantz on the Masters broadcast referred to Homer Kelley's, "The Golfing Machine" as "The Golf Machine.” Maybe Nantz has an aversion to gerunds. You don’t expect him to be Grammar Girl or William Safire, but being an announcer for decades, you'd expect him to grasp the subtleties of the English language.

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No matter, language is more de facto than de jure, no? It matters more that the average person understands you than what’s written in the textbooks, yes? It’s a mixed bag. Google yields more hits for “The Golfing Machine” than “The Golf Machine”. You wouldn’t write a book titled, The Footballing/Baseballing/Basketballing Machine. But you would call someone a running machine, a hiking machine, a picking machine (see the movie Moneyball.) The official website has the gerund plastered all over its pages. However, search results also yield a lot of people who intimately know TGM refer to it as “The Golf Machine”. So basically it’s interchangeable.

It would take a few seconds for Nantz to say “The Golf Machine, or the official title of the book, The Golfing Machine.” God knows there is enough time in a golf broadcast to fill. So why does this matter? It wouldn’t make a lookup easier, ecommerce and search algorithms would easily “fix” your mistake, Did you mean “The Golfing Machine”? 

The subtle read, to me, is he never looked at the book at any length. He works with Gary McCord, who definitely knows TGM, there’s a 1 hour video of him talking about it with Mac O’Grady, but maybe McCord refers to it as The Golf Machine, but McCord probably had a copy of the book floating around and maybe Nantz never bothered to go through it given he had chances.  Nantz has a lot more things to do to prepare for the broadcast (I'll give him he's probably got a lot of football and basketball knowledge taking up space in his memory) I guess, like prepping for the Tom Watson send off, schmoozing with TPTB, figuring out his opening and closing lines, friends. It makes me think that the way television and people who run golf, see golf differently than I do, way, way, differently. There's a dichotomy, talking with the best players, working with execs who basically control golf empires, versus me, the guy who just loves to play golf, learn golf.

The golf industry talks about popularizing golf, gaining a broader appeal. To do so, you need to start catering to a wider demographic. In my humble opinion, better instruction is part of that and starts with the little things. Like learning the basics of radar and Aimpoint and giving the public a simple, unbiased assessment of them, rather than something like “the fickle finger of fate” or old cliches of Rae’s Creek drawing putts in its general vicinity. Yes, the proper title of a book is an extreme case (and very anal), but it’s basically a step in the general direction. Facts, not opinion.

All this is stemming from an offhand interpretation of three letters, or maybe I misheard him or there was something wrong with the audio, so I could be totally wrong, but I ramble.

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Sheesh, dude! You sound like a frustrated English teacher! Gerunds? Come on man! Oh, crap! I left out a comma! Yes, I learned all about this in school, diagramming sentences and all that. Do you know what good it did me in real life? Absolutely nothing! I could speak and write properly, but couldn't diagram a sentence to save my life. So much so, that a college communications prof thought I had a future in journalism. You know what I discovered in her class? That writing well is damned hard work!

As is commentating. When you are "live", and trying to impart information, all the while a producer is yacking in one ear through the IFB, it can be stressful. So, I can forgive the small screw up.

I do play this game myself. The "I'm a professional broadcaster" game! Not long ago I heard the word "analyzation" used in connection with several NFL broadcasts. What's wrong with analysis? The best one was when "American Pharoah" was trying for the Triple Crown. A nationally syndicated radio show had started calling the horse "American 'Fair-Oh-Uh' " since the spelling was not consistent. The word is spelled Pharaoh! It became an in-house, running joke on the show. On the day that the horse won the Triple Crown, I happened to be watching the local news. The local guy pronounced the name as "American Pariah"!

I almost fell off the couch laughing!

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10 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I think Stevens point isn't that it was simply a slip of the tongue, but that it was more of a sign that he's never bothered to read the book.  

Exactly. TGM is hard to understand, so Nantz could have flipped through the book, say what the hell is this (like a lot of people) and then asked someone for the executive synopsis, he is in the right social circles to get good summaries, and then go into more detail. They talk about TGM, Aimpoint, radar, but you don't get the sense that they drilled down into the subjects. Not asking them to attend a 20 hour seminar, but the way they talk about these things is almost like a happy ignorance, like politicians pretending to be dumb to appeal to a broader, less educated audience. Or maybe they do dumb it down on purpose, who knows?

And grammar is worthwhile. It helps you express yourself more clearly and concisely. Simple things like subject-verb agreement. Grammar also includes some aspects of logical thinking.  The world is getting more complicated. To convey what you mean exactly the way you want to without overcomplicating things is a valuable asset.

Look at the writing of kids these days. Even college grads and college grads from top schools. Ugh.  When you get an e-mail from someone you work with and it's full of bad grammar, what impression do you get of this person? It's one thing if English isn't your first language, one can still see good, creative ideas conveyed despite bad grammar but if you're born in the US, it's just really unfortunate your grammar is poor, but it's never too late to improve it, the amount of free grammar instruction on the interwebs is not trivial.

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10 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

Sheesh, dude! You sound like a frustrated English teacher! Gerunds? Come on man! Oh, crap! I left out a comma! Yes, I learned all about this in school, diagramming sentences and all that. Do you know what good it did me in real life? Absolutely nothing! I could speak and write properly, but couldn't diagram a sentence to save my life. So much so, that a college communications prof thought I had a future in journalism. You know what I discovered in her class? That writing well is damned hard work!

As is commentating. When you are "live", and trying to impart information, all the while a producer is yacking in one ear through the IFB, it can be stressful. So, I can forgive the small screw up.

I do play this game myself. The "I'm a professional broadcaster" game! Not long ago I heard the word "analyzation" used in connection with several NFL broadcasts. What's wrong with analysis? The best one was when "American Pharoah" was trying for the Triple Crown. A nationally syndicated radio show had started calling the horse "American 'Fair-Oh-Uh' " since the spelling was not consistent. The word is spelled Pharaoh! It became an in-house, running joke on the show. On the day that the horse won the Triple Crown, I happened to be watching the local news. The local guy pronounced the name as "American Pariah"!

I almost fell off the couch laughing!

Just looking at what you wrote, the grammar you learned in school payed off well. You expressed yourself clearly and you're grammatically spot on. :beer:

And most of my focus in school was in the sciences. But reading, writing, logic these help develop a more well rounded mind.

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4 hours ago, nevets88 said:

Exactly. TGM is hard to understand, so Nantz could have flipped through the book, say what the hell is this (like a lot of people) and then asked someone for the executive synopsis, he is in the right social circles to get good summaries, and then go into more detail. They talk about TGM, Aimpoint, radar, but you don't get the sense that they drilled down into the subjects. Not asking them to attend a 20 hour seminar, but the way they talk about these things is almost like a happy ignorance, like politicians pretending to be dumb to appeal to a broader, less educated audience. Or maybe they do dumb it down on purpose, who knows?

And grammar is worthwhile. It helps you express yourself more clearly and concisely. Simple things like subject-verb agreement. Grammar also includes some aspects of logical thinking.  The world is getting more complicated. To convey what you mean exactly the way you want to without overcomplicating things is a valuable asset.

Look at the writing of kids these days. Even college grads and college grads from top schools. Ugh.  When you get an e-mail from someone you work with and it's full of bad grammar, what impression do you get of this person? It's one thing if English isn't your first language, one can still see good, creative ideas conveyed despite bad grammar but if you're born in the US, it's just really unfortunate your grammar is poor, but it's never too late to improve it, the amount of free grammar instruction on the interwebs is not trivial.

Glad you recognized I meant "wasn't a slip of the tongue" despite my somewhat ironic typo. :P

Also, "happy ignorance" is a great way to put it.  They seem to like to subtly put down these kinds of things (aimpoint is the other most obvious) with, I imagine, the thinking that it's appealing to their mostly older demo better.

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Thank you for your kind response, nevets. And I, too, was also more interested in the sciences, and still have an abiding interest in physics. I like to think it could have been a career path if I had been able to handle the math!

Style aside, how about the content? Analyzation? When something like that clangs off my ears, my automatic response is, "I AM A PROFESSIONAL BROADCASTER!" That's the game I was referring to.

And American Pariah? Amusing, no?

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Read Jim Nantz' My Shot in Golf Digest:

Excerpt:

 

Quote

 

When I joined the CBS golf team in 1986, Frank Chirkinian, the legendary producer and director, tough-loved me practically to death. He yelled at me frequently, and during commercials he would get laughs from the veterans at my expense. One of my first AT&Ts, he assigned me to interview celebrities at the 17th hole. I was 26 years old and had no clue what to ask Burt Lancaster, George C. Scott and Vic Damone. I walked into the trailer and said, "Mr. Chirkinian, I don't think I'm the right guy to be interviewing these celebrities. What should I ask them?"

Venturi, Summerall and the whole crew are in there. Frank said, "Come here, son." He got out of his chair, walked over and pointed out a tiny window. "See that lake out there?" he said, pointing at the Pacific Ocean. "Next time you come in and ask me a silly-ass question like that, I'm going to throw you in that lake. Now get the hell out of my office, go down to the 17th hole and talk to those people." They all roared. I slinked out of there.

 

I think exchanges like above early on teach them that as a broadcaster you don't have to know or even study in -depth about everything you discuss. That presentation is more important than details. An element of 'winging it' (i.e., don't need to read the book, have heard the synopsis, know enough to talk through). I guess over time with the level of success you build enough (over)confidence that it bleeds in to things where you can't just wing it but do it anyway 'cause you have been doing it for three decades. Keen listeners will catch it though (as @nevets88 did) and know when the 'tongue slip' is a symptom of a larger lack and not just someone winging it. I think a bit ingenuous to talk about something on air with a large audience aimed really to impress even if your knowledge is fleeting at best or hollow at worst. Now, if he disclaimed from the beginning admitting mostly ignorance or only brief understanding then it would be different..

 

 

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