Thursday Thoughts

What the Golf Media Won’t Tell you about Rory at the Masters:  After fifteen years of insisting the only thing that mattered in golf was Tiger Woods chasing Jack Nicklaus, it’s odd the golf media hasn’t mentioned that should Rory McIlroy win at Augusta this April, he will move ahead of Jack’s pace of winning majors.

Lack of Compassion for Tiger Woods:  There seems to be a serious lack of compassion for Tiger Woods’s current among the general public.  I’m not talking about the type people who cheer when an opposing team’s football players suffer a gruesome injury on the field.  Those type people exist, yes, and some of them are cheering Woods’s injuries.  But forget them: I’m talking about normal, good-hearted people.

No doubt the reason regular people have so little compassion is due in part to how Woods has behaved off the course to.  But more than that, I think it was the way he behaved on the course, combined with how the Golf Media presented him.

If you think of Bubba Watson’s defining moment, you likely think about his shot out out of the trees on the first playoff hole at Augusta.  The huge hook that landed on the green turning a likely bogey into a green jacket.  Do you remember what Bubba did after that shot?  Me, either.  You remember the shot, though.

With Woods, his defining moments are not shots, but his reactions after the shots.  His “sack dances.”  Jumping across the green, punching the air with an uppercut while screaming.  Such demonstrations have always been considered rude and out of place in golf, but with Woods the golf media told us they were “cool” and “exciting.”  But make no mistake about it.  Woods knew he was being rude, and did it in an attempt to throw his opponents off their games.  I mean, come on: five-year-old kids get sent to time-out for acting that way after winning at a board game.  Act like that if you wish.  It’s not against the rules of the game, just the spirit of the game.  But don’t condemn people for mocking your “glutes” and “first loser” comments.  Don’t condemn them for doing their own sack dances at your expense.

The media loved to push the narrative that Woods broke the spirit of fellow competitors, caring not a whit how those players might feel about such a media description.  The other players didn’t matter.  They were the Washington Generals, there only to provide a punching bag for Woods.  Now, golf fans are cheering a broken man playing like a 20-handicapper.  What goes around comes around.

So here we are: People laugh, and say to their televisions, “Haha, why don’t you do one of your exaggerated in-your-face fist pumps now?” after Woods duffs a chip three feet or skulls a shot across the green into a sandtrap.  When Patrick Reed, no Miss Manners himself, wears red and black when paired with Woods, we laugh and think, “Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it?”

What’s that saying?  Be nice to the people on your way up because you’ll see them again on your way down.

Tiger Woods at Augusta: I admit to hoping Woods does not play.  There will be monster ratings if Rory is in the hunt, and I can’t wait to see the “golf needs Tiger” crowd silenced once and for all.

Golf Media vs Dotcom Bubble: I was reflecting how, fifteen years later, it’s hard to fully remember what the dotcom era was like. Good jobs were plentiful, the stock market was zooming up, and the media preached that the “New Economy” had changed everything.

I know these things, and I remember then, but I can’t really feel the way it felt back then, but I cannot immerse myself in that late 90’s zeitgeist.  The worldview that passed for conventional wisdom back then is gone.  Back in those days, few were concerned about the unintended consequences of outsourcing and offshoring, and few were suspicious of the bogus accounting practices that led to Enron, Worldcom, and the rest.

It was simply: “This is a New Economy, I hear that from experts twenty times a day. When it comes to investing, the only risk is in not being in the stock market.” Few could imagine the stock market and economy going down. (I could just as easily have used the housing bubble as my example.)

I believe that, fifteen years from now, people will reflect upon the Tiger Woods media in a similar manner. They will remember intellectually how Golf Channel mentioned his name every five seconds. How he was worked into every conversation no matter the topic. How tournament coverage focused on him even when he was completely out of attention. The camera in the parking lot. The slow-mo facial reaction shots. They will intellectually recall these things, in the matter-of-fact way we recall the capital of North Dakota is Bismarck.

My point: In not too many many years, it will seem unreal that golf media coverage could have been so much like Kim Kardashian coverage.  We will once again have golf tournament coverage, not the Tiger Woods reality show, and the past will seem so awful, so impossible to have been so bad, that people will gradually forget how horrible and silly — childish, really — it was.  This age of terrible golf coverage will become Bismarck, ND.

Bible Verse:  There’s a verse in the King James Bible that goes like this: I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the golf moneychangers lived by that wisdom?  If I hear one more of those idiots talking about “growing the game” I’ll puke.  We all know “grow the game” means nothing more than “put more money in my pockets.”

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8 Responses to Thursday Thoughts

  1. Anonymous says:

    To pass Jack, Rory will have to pass Tiger first. So, that will be the media focus. That way, they can keep Tiger in the conversation.

    • lannyh says:

      I was looking at a chart today. Woods reeled off four straight at Rory’s age, so Rory will trail him. However, when Woods reached 8, he sat there for over two years. If Rory gets the Masters in April, I think he likely will match or surpass Woods when he reaches 9. I mean, pure speculation, and Rory could switch to minor league baseball ala Michael Jordan, but just looking at trends, and how well Rory is playing, it would not be far-fetched at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. Just providing my opinion on how I feel the media story will be lined out.

        You mean you think Rory will match or surpass Woods’ PACE when he reaches 9. Keep in mind, Tiger got to 14 at an age where Jack had something like 10 and we’ve seen what’s happened since. So this notion of comparing “paces” is a bit silly to me.

        What we pretty much know or sure at this point is that Rory has officially taken over as the “dominant” player. Where it goes from here, we’ll see, but it should be a fun ride.

      • lannyh says:

        Koepka or Reed strike me as the best Americans up and coming. I prefer Spieth, but for some reason, I think those other two might be Rory’s biggest competitors.

        I don’t know if it is the fact that he’s from Ireland or what, but the American golf media really seems to be dragging their feet on Rory.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re a bleepin’ idiot Lanny. The “Grow the Game” initiative is a program driven by the PGA and the 28,000 PGA professionals across the country. It’s designed to get more people involved in the game of golf. How the hell is that a bad thing? Does it bring more money to the game? Certainly. But the #1 goal is to bring more people into the game of golf. I’m a PGA professional and have been a part of bringing new golfers to the game of golf; men, women, and most importantly, junior golfers.

    You focus on money and yeah, it helps me earn a living. But the “side effects” are amazing. To see a new golfer hit their first pure shot, or make their first par, or shoot their “new” best score….so satisfying. To know I have an impact on helping people learn to love golf like I do, it’s a wonderful feeling. Growing the Game is how you keep the game alive.

    • lannyh says:

      Well, hold on a minute. I’m addressing the “grow the game” meme, not any specific initiative or program (although certainly they would be related).

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with introducing people to the game of golf, but let’s not kid ourselves that it is some altruistic mission. The American Egg Board runs those “incredible edible egg” commercials with one goal in mind: grow the egg industry. In other words, make it more profitable. Pretty much every industry does the same. Look at all the unnecessary pharmaceutical drugs that are pushed upon people. Every statin salesman millionaire would tell you he is doing it to help people, but he won’t tell you about the numerous studies saying most people taking statins should not be taking them.

      How can growing the game hurt golf? Well, here’s an example. Some people say that golf should be “more like other sports,” where spectators shout and scream. They tell us that No. 16 at Phoenix should be the model for all of golf. That kind of crowd makes golf “cool” and “attractive to the young people,” etc. But, the truth is, if such an idea ever caught on, it would destroy the essence of golf. The beauty of golf is that it is NOT like most other sports.

      So, if you bring in a lot of “casual golf fans,” all you are doing is diluting the essence of the game. But, look, I’m not against introducing people to the game on the chance that they’ll fall in love with it and make it a part of their lives. But I also realize that tricking people into thinking the game is something it’s not can also be a ploy to sell those people clubs and lessons and collect green fees.

      Let’s not be naive. Manufacturers like TaylorMade, which is connected to some kind of recent grow-the-game initiative (which may or not be related to the one you mentioned) is interested in growing the game in order to grow their bottom line. Because, while it would not be beneficial at all to their profits, it would be beneficial to golf if we had standardized equipment. “New and improved” equipment every year pads the pockets of those selling it (if you are involved in that, yes, it would include you), as well as obsoleting old courses. So it makes golf costlier for hobby players. That’s growing the game?

      Of course, Brandel Chamblee and his ilk in the media mean something different by “growing the game.” They mean higher ratings or more readers, end of story. So when Chamblee says “grow the game,” he doesn’t care what the effects to golf might be. He would tell you “Woods grows the game.” Okay, is it good for golf for newbies to learn to scream “Fuck!” after poor shots? Is it good to learn to play slowly like Woods? (David Duval pointed out two years ago that Woods is among the slowest on Tour.) In the years Woods was good, we were told his being an asshole on the course showed “his great competitiveness.” I don’t see any of THAT game growing to be beneficial.

      And all this great “growing the game” has somehow turned the 3-hour rounds I played 30 years ago into 5+ hour rounds nowadays. (And what happened to the pull carts we once could rent, or bring your own, we used when we played those 3-hour rounds? Is forcing people to shell out big money for riding carts “growing the game”? I’m sure there are people making that claim.)

      The comment I made in my column, which I totally stand by, was not aimed so much at your point of view. I can see how you might be offended. You may have taught some kids how to play and watched them gain in self-confidence and general happiness as they progressed in the game. That’s great. However, I hear and read “grow the game” constantly, and 9 times out of 10, it refers to “selling more product,” or “getting higher TV ratings,” or some other self-interested financial motive. I think it’s an empty, deceptive slogan much like the educators and politicians whose ideas for “better educating our children” always coincide with what will enrich them personally.

      Bottom line: I’m sick to death of constantly hearing people make self-interested proposals and try to justify them with claims they will “grow the game.” As if “growing the game” is the be-all-end-all in golf, and should never be questioned.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I must say that after following your comments from CBS to your page, I have decided I like most of what you have to say. I still like TW, but that has to do with growing up in the 90’s and watching him obliterate the competition. It’s hard for me to pull for him these days given the person he really is, but there is still a part of me that likes seeing history made. I hope, like you do, that it’s Rory who ultimately rewrites the record books though.

    My only objection to this piece: “Do you remember what Bubba did after that shot? Me, either. You remember the shot, though.”

    I most definitely remember. He made the par, won The Masters, then embraced his mother and broke down in tears. It was a heart warming moment.

    • lannyh says:

      Right, I remember his mother on the 10th green, too. I meant his reaction after the big hook from the woods, but I really should have come up with a better example for my comparison.

      I was a big Woods fan until the aftermath of Thanksgiving 2009. The vast gulf between the image he sold the public and the reality was simply unacceptable.

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