Friday Semi Live Blog

Media Madness: Ladbrokes has Donald Trump at 12-1 to win the presidency.  Ladbrokes has Tiger Woods at 20-1 to win the Masters.  The media tells us “Trump has no chance” and points to polls showing his high unfavorable numbers, but tells us “Tiger’s swing will soon click” and points to T-17 finishes as evidence he’s “getting close.”

Grand Slam of Goof:  What can you say about the PGA Tour’s rush to distance themselves from “Donald Trump the Racist”?  Stray thoughts:

  • If Trump is elected president, will the PGA Tour continue to pull events from his courses because he is such a horrible person?
  • Did they think the political media’s Outrage of the Week was going to stay in the headlines until December?
  • Was this really just a way to permanently cancel the event while deflecting the blame?  Next year, the PGAT can say, “Oh, well, no one really missed it, so we’re not bringing it back.”
  • Did NBC lobby for Finchem to pull the event from the Trump course?  We know there is an incestuous relationship between Finchem and the golf media, so isn’t it plausible that NBC, seeking to build a “story” — either for ratings or to damage Trump — might enlist Finchem?
  • Wasn’t it a little odd that they yanked the Grand Slam of Golf so quickly, but said they would worry about Doral later?

Morning Drive Watch:  I have Morning Drive on as it begins.  I will stay until the first superfluous Tiger Woods mention.

Twenty minutes in, and no mention of Woods that I’ve heard.  Had a nice video clip of Spieth saying the OWGR system is fair.  Very logically pointing out that the system could measure a month, a year, four years, but it’s for two years and that is fine.  Why is that concept so difficult for so many people to grasp?

It occurs to me that the “complicated, nonsensical” (it’s neither) OWGR rating system is a safe scapegoat for the golf media.  They unfairly bash the OWGR system, but treat Woods and Mickelson with kid gloves.  Actually they don’t just treat them with kid gloves, they defend them.  Remember all the “Phil is Cleared!” articles when the Clorox case against Mickelson was dropped.  The Dean Foods case remained — and still does — but they pushed the meme that Mickelson was falsely accused and already cleared.

Well, I must credit Morning Drive for avoiding Woods this morning.  I haven’t heard him mentioned.  Oh, they most assuredly will mention him, but at least the focus seems to be on this week’s event.


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Thursday Semi Live Blog: Should “Playoffs” Be Axed?

[Two late additions: (1) I erroneously thought PGA tournaments started on Thursdays.  Oh, well, I’m not changing today’s title.  (2) While putting together a list of online golf podcasts, I discovered that Shane Ryan just today posted a bonus addition to his book (“Slaying the Tiger”).  Based on a quick scan, it looks good, as was the book.  I still need to write part 2 of my review of that book.  I’ll do it soon.]

Should the PGA Tour’s FedEx “playoffs” be discontinued?  Yes.


  • They aren’t playoffs.  There is no win or go home.  Nine years in, and I still feel the need to put quote marks around “playoffs.”
  • The “reshuffling,” another term I feel the need to place in quote marks.  How stupid is that?  Can you imagine the Tour de France “reshuffling” before the final stage?
  • Football.  Rory McIlroy is making his “playoffs” debut today, and all I am thinking about is the kickoff of the North Carolina-South Carolina football game.
  • They cannibalize the West Coast events, which have drawn progressively fewer top players since the advent of the “playoffs.”  This is unfortunate because January and February are the best times to gin up interest in people to play the game themselves: college football is over, and only a handful of NFL teams are still playing; many viewers are watching from cold climates, dreaming of spring.  That is the time to create excitement about golf!  But the “playoffs” have gutted those early-year tournaments.

[We now pause for this word from our sponsor…  I tried twice to watch Golf Channel this morning.  First, an early replay of Golf Central.  I lasted maybe one minute.  They said something along the lines of, in reference to Jordan Spieth and some other players throwing out first pitches, “Golfers have been doing more than playing golf lately.  We’re going to show you some of the best of these from the past.”  As they say that, they show video of Tiger Woods wearing a baseball uniform taking batting practice with some MLB team.  Gosh, what a shock: GC uses the occasion of Jordan Spieth throwing out the first pitch to show another episode of “I Am Cait Tiger.”

I watch CNN for an hour.  I catch the start of Morning Drive.  Within one minute, they are saying some kind of bullshit about how important Tiger Woods is to the game, and start talking about a charity event he played in.  And show another photo of him, of course.  Yeah, give that top billing over the wonderful “playoffs.”  Showing what a joke Golf Channel is AND what a joke the “playoffs” are.  They need to cancel Morning Drive.  Show repeats of Golf Central or something until next January when they can roll out a new format.

And now back to our regular programming.]

  • On the bright side, the weather is usually mild for when the Top 125/100 (more or less) play two huge media markets.  This would be great except for the fact that sports fans in New York and Boston live and die for the Giants, Patriot, and Jets.  Open a Boston newspaper and see if the NFL or the Deutsche Bank gets more coverage this week. [Update: Shortly after I wrote and published this, the NFL announced Tom Brady will not be suspended after all.  Will anyone in Boston even know there is a golf tournament?]
  • The fields get smaller and weaker as the “playoffs” progress.
  • The qualification rules are self-serving and stupid.
  • These “playoffs” are unnecessary.  The Euro Tour benefits from the Race To Dubai, but the U.S. already has three majors and three WGC events.
  • The Western Open, dating back to 1899, was once a strong-field mid-summer staple.  Now it’s a limited-field event pushed into the deep shadows by the NFL.
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Charlie Sheen Says Tiger Woods Poor Play Due To Eyesight Problem!

Charlie Sheen thinks Tiger Woods’s eyesight was affected during the Thanksgiving 2009 attack on him by former wife, Elin.  Here’s the video.

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Wednesday Thoughts (Economy Edition)

Okay, I’m too uninspired to write this morning, so I’ll call this reply to a comment the entire thing.  It’s a continuation of the discussion about television ratings and Tiger Woods:

Q:  Lanny – it’s not about the actual number of households, but the Continue reading

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Tuesday Thoughts

In the podcast I linked to and discussed yesterday, Chris Solomon (the main NLU [No Laying Up] guy) made a remark about how, early in the year, he had used Anirban Lahiri to bash the European Tour as weak and awarding too many OWGR points, which hurts PGA Tour players.  Regular readers will recognize that as jalnichol’s EuroTour Seven bashing meme.

I suppose I should research when NLU started bashing Lahiri, and to what extent, but that’s not really critical to my reason for bring this up.  Here’s a comment Solomon made in the podcast:

[This is a cleaned up transcript.  Someone pointed out yesterday that the word “like” was used a lot.  I had not even noticed.  However, when transcribing this morning, I saw what the commenter was talking about!  That said, I honestly prefer the casual vibe.  It shows they are talking about what springs to mind, not something from a production meeting, not something based on findings from a focus group.  They are discussing things I think about myself — and that never happens on Golf Channel.]

I admitted it on Twitter, I’ll admit it live on the podcast. I made Lahiri the poster boy for my early season rants against the Official World Golf Rankings. He got in the Master basically, I thought, the route that I hate, by winning — he did win in Malaysia, a bigger event — but he won like the Hero Indian Open and got a lot of world golf ranking points for that — more than Henrik Stenson got for finishing T-4 at the Valspar or something like that.

Lahiri just became this official world ranking points joke to me. He’s backed up his… If you are going to finish top five in a major, I gotta back off. So I’ve officially suspended my Anirban Lahiri jokes. He’s a legit player, I’ll say it, and we’ll just move on from this topic forever.

Courtesy of a Commenter:

Wk/event Wkly. ave. viewers per minute
4/20 (Zurich) 56,000
4/27 (WGC Match Play) 59,000
5/4 (Players Ch.) 68,000
5/11 (Wells Fargo) 46,000
5/18 (Colonial) 43,000
5/25 (B. Nelson) 62,000
6/1 (Memorial) 49,000
6/6 (St. Jude) 65,000
6/15 (US Open) 138,000
6/22 (Hartford) 81,000
6/29 (Greenbriar) 58,000
7/6 (John Deere) 54,000
7/13 (Open Ch.) 68,000
7/21 (Canadian Open) 74,000
7/27 (Quicken Loans) 73,000
8/3 (Firestone) 62,000
8/10 (PGA Ch.) 82,000
8/17 (Wyndham) 96,000
To compare…Golf Central…which begins in evening Prime 
Time (6pm), averages around 77,000 viewers per 
minute…slightly stronger in audience share than 
Morning Drive. The week of the Wyndham rating for 
Morning Drive (96,000) was the second highest of 
the year ranking only behind the US Open week…pretty 
astounding for a second tier, weak field, PGA Tour 
event. The number for Golf Central during Wyndham 
week was 115,000. In general, the numbers for Morning 
Drive are pretty weak except when there is a large 
event being played (or Tiger Woods is in the field).

I find this rather interesting for a lot of reasons.  You can look at these numbers and come up with a lot of narratives.  In fact, we’ve been doing that in yesterday’s comment section.

But let me suggest something worth looking at…

These are weekly numbers.  That means Monday’s numbers, perhaps Tuesday’s, will reflect the people who tuned in to get a recap of the previous week’s event.  The Wyndham came the week after Jason Day got his incredibly popular victory at the U.S. Open at Whistling Straits.

Now, look at this, from a followup comment:

Some numbers that surprised me: pretty weak during 
the Memorial…unusually strong for the Hartford 
week…but the Wyndham number to me is astounding.

Now, realizing that the event prior to the Hartford was the U.S. Open won by Jordan Spieth when Dustin Johnson three-putted on the 72nd hole, are those numbers really so surprising?

One of the themes of this website is that people will take some numbers/outcome/circumstances and build a narrative around them that makes them feel good.  They are able to say “Tiger made golf prize money go up, and all other players should thank him” fully believing that is true, and obviously so.  They found a narrative they love, and they stopped thinking.  So, when you point out that ALL sports money went up, they simply are not going to listen.  Facts?  We don’t need your stinking facts!

I’m not comparing these numbers to the prize money mythology.  (For one thing, Woods does have an effect on television ratings.  There are some people who truly do “only watch when Tiger plays.”  Whether those people are important to the game of golf is a conversation for another day.)  However, the analysis of these Morning Drive ratings numbers seemed to have begun and ended with a Tigercentric analysis.  In other words, nothing else mattered.  Only Tiger.

However, it doesn’t take too much additional analysis to realize the previous week’s event has a major bearing on the numbers.  [Where are the numbers for the rest of the year?  I was curious about the week after the Valspar and noticed it’s not there.]

Consider that the Tiger-less (and weakish) Canadian Open outdrew the Tiger Woods-hosted Quicken Loans.  You could say, “Oh, well, that proves that Canadian golf draws more viewers than Tiger Woods.”  Or, you could say, “Yeah, because it came the week after the crazy British Open, where Jordan Spieth missed out on the third leg of the Grand Slam by a single stroke.”  (Or, especially, that the finish of the Brit Open was on Monday.)

Also, too, Morning Drive is shifted around on the schedule every week.  Sometimes, it’s very early, sometimes later.  That has a significant effect.

It’s important to consider all the facts, and not just grab the first narrative that suits your personal preference.

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Monday Thoughts

Big Blue Live:  Tonight, and for the following two nights, PBS is airing a program which is, apparently, live coverage of Monterey Bay, showing the rejuvenation of marine life in the area.  True golf fans will want to watch this because Pebble Beach is on the Monterey Peninsula.

THIS is what Morning Drive should be…  Okay, I’m only halfway through this podcast, but it’s exactly what I want from a morning golf program.  It’s Chris Solomon (No Laying Up) and Kyle Porter (CBS) talking for an hour.  It is everything Golf Channel’s Morning Drive is not.  And no commercials.  There’s irreverence, humor, and Continue reading

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Sunday Barclays Semi Live Blog

Kostis, Mired in the Past, Spoils Broadcast

It’s hard to believe the fantasyland in which some people reside.

Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz were discussing golf’s new Big Three of Day, Spieth, and Rory.  They asked Kostis his opinion, and he Continue reading

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