Thoughtful Commentary: This is an interesting/different article from New Zealand about Mickelson/Ruffels. The analysis of Ruffels’ comments after making the cut were excellent. There is a depth you rarely encounter in golf writing.
Circadian Rhythms of Golf: I love this time of the golf year. A new year, a new beginning, all that. The holidays and football wind down, and thoughts turn to spring and golf.
But there are a few flies in the ointment. The European Tour events on the Middle East swing are among my favorites; however, for U.S. citizens, the television hours are quite inconvenient.
While in the U.S., the West Coast swing makes people east of the Rockies sit around “all day” waiting for the first groups to tee off. I’ve played a lot of early golf over the years, and there is a Morning Ritual that goes along with golf. Rising before dawn, making or buying breakfast, driving to the course, glimpsing the greenskeepers finishing their preparation. The clubhouse pro and the starter are sipping coffee as they direct the flow of golfers.
There’s a Morning Ritual for hotels, too, and while for me, that’s usually not related to golf, it’s easy to picture the pros waking up in a strange hotel room and going through both the hotel and golf Morning Rituals. It’s like listening to baseball on the radio; you don’t have to be there; you visualize it so completely that you live it.
Simply put, there’s something comforting and good and eternal going on when you hear the early scores out of Augusta as you drive to work.
So, while I truly love golf this time of year, some things get better when the PGA Tour moves east and the European Tour moves west.
Rory Time: The first groups in Dubai tee off at 10:15 pm EST. It looks like Golf Channel is going to have incredible coverage of the event. As best I can tell, they will start with five hours of live coverage, then have a 1-1/2 hour break during which they will show pre-recorded play from that first five hours. After that, it’s back to live coverage for another three hours. (That pattern of coverage is a tipoff Rory is teeing off in the first wave; indeed, he goes off at 11:05 pm EST; I can’t imagine I’ll see much of his round, but who knows.)
The Golf Channel has major problems — Morning Drive and the pre/postgame shows are unwatchable — but give credit where credit is due: Their live coverage of the European Tour is both extensive and of high quality. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but it truly is something for which we should be grateful.
Phoenix Open: The PGA Tour heads to Arizona for the Phoenix Open Drunkfest. I admit I have not even peeked at the field (Dubai either, for that matter; I just know Rory is playing). One thing I do know, however, is the television coverage will be dominated by the “exciting” par-3 No. 16 with all its drunken fans. We’ll get “debates” among commentators about whether it would be “good for golf” if “the crowds were like this everywhere.” We’ll see replays of players who chip in and do little dances. We’ll hear how missed greens bring boos. We’ll see wackily-attired spectators. Players who encourage the crowd to cheer while they tee off. Interviews with wasted fans.
But, you know, I’ve seen the same thing every year for a decade. Call me cynical, but I think the Phoenix Open coverage has jumped the shark. I get it: No. 16 is a novel hole. And I truly do love that it arose organically. (Even if was the work of out-of-control drunks…) It also gives newish fans something, perhaps, to talk about at work.
But, undeniably, it overwhelms the broadcast. I don’t know, maybe that’s actually a good thing from a publicity standpoint. Not only does the silliness provide water cooler talk, it gives ESPN a reason to include a shot or two in their Plays of the Day. For me, though, the coverage too often becomes tedious, repetitive, and predictable. Cover it as a circus, fine, but at least bring in a new act once in a while.
All In A Name: Has the PGA Tour changed their naming convention for the season? This needs to be the 2016 PGA Tour season, not the 2015-2016 season.
Consider this year: there are six events in 2015 and roughly forty in 2016. It’s far easier to think of the season as 2016, and know that a few tournaments from the prior year count toward the money list. The majors all occur in 2016. Why deliberately cause clumsiness and undue confusion?
Living in the Past, Part… I Lost Count: I just scanned the titles at CBS Golf. Is this embarrassing, or has it reached the point of sad? I feel guilty (literally) for showing this, but I can’t resist: