Honest Assessment: Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament Stank

[Quick Hitter Update:  I appreciate dry humor.  I’ve had belly laughs reading sly sentences in Noam Chomsky books.  Here’s a nice line from Geoff Shackelford; it is a pretty standard gag for him, sure, but it caught me totally off guard.  Maybe we laugh at such things because we feel good (superior?) to be in on the joke.  Wait.  Rather than tell you, I’ll send you to the article — it’s short and quite interesting — to see if you spot it.]


First off, congratulations to Vaughn Taylor, for a life-changing victory.  That’s what golf is all about.  While I was disappointed to see Hiroshi Iwata fall off, he still had a solid tournament; however, had Iwata saved two strokes coming in and finished second, he would have harvested 32 OWGR points instead of just 14.  As it is, he’s ranked #91 this morning, so he still has a long way to go to make the Match Play field.  For his part, Vaughn Taylor vaulted up to OWGR #100.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me speak honestly of the Pebble Beach pro-am.

I hate it.

I like the idea of it, sure.  I like the tradition and history.  I like the involvement of celebrities.  I like the change of pace from regular events.

But I can’t watch it.  It’s hard to even follow it.  Let’s examine the second of those first.

The tournament uses three courses the first three days, so score comparisons are apples-to-oranges.  The cut does not come until Saturday night, further cluttering up the proceedings.

Then there was the CBS broadcast.  CBS is, hands-down, the best at golf coverage.  However, this week’s broadcast was simply unwatchable.

In fairness to CBS, they didn’t have much to work with.  But their constant promos — often accompanied by loud, jolting music and sound effects — was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Several times, I changed channels, even with the compelling competition, due to CBS’s relentless in-your-face promos.

Beyond that, the announcing was simply horrid.  They need to learn to shut up.  They should study the European Tour Productions broadcasts.  A player was standing over a putt yesterday — let’s say it was Jonas Blixt — as CBS cut to that green.  A booth announcer says to the on-course announcer, “What can you say about Blixt’s round today?”  The on-course announcer spouts a bunch of just-say-something nonsense.  To them, it would be unacceptable to allow viewers to watch Blixt to the accompaniment of the sounds of the Monterey Peninsula.

And the post-putt analysis has gone light years beyond tedious.  Tour pros miss 31 percent of six-foot putts.  So, roughly, you can expect a pro to miss one out of every three six-footers.  That’s life; that’s to be expected.  Yet, every time a putt is missed, the announcers treat us to lengthy discussion about whether the player pushed it or pulled it or blocked it or came out of it or misread it or numberless other reasons for the guy doing exactly what statistics would indicate he would do: miss one out of three six-footers.

Consider Lebron James.  His free throw percentage is .750.  Do basketball announcers feel the need to show Lebron’s every miss in slow-motion and analyze whither the problem lie with his failed free throw attempt?

But the problems went well beyond a poor announcing job by CBS.

Consider what this tournament had going for it.  An iconic golf course, with scenic vistas ready-made for television.  Jordan Spieth in the field.  One of the strongest fields in the event’s history.  A respectable slate of celebrities.  And absolutely perfect weather.  Folks, the organizers can’t do any better than that.

Nevertheless, the event was a major disappointment for this viewer.  It was an out-of-tune guitar I could not suffer listening to.

I am a fan of the event.  At least in theory.  But I can’t watch it.

What could be done?  I don’t know.  But, for starters, they need to aim for a Friday cut, with all weekend rounds played at Pebble.  Just an off-hand thought:  Could amateurs play only one round with their pro?  The one at Pebble.  I don’t know.  It’s not my problem.  Maybe the Powers That Be don’t even see it as a problem.  Maybe the ratings are great; maybe the viewers come from outside the realm of golf fans.

Bottom Line:  I’m glad Pebble is behind us, and I’m glad the Tour is headed to Riviera for the Los Angeles Open.  Hogan’s Alley.  A real golf tournament with a two-day cut and apples-to-apples scores.

Now, if only the CBS announcers can shut up before, during, and after putts.

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13 Responses to Honest Assessment: Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament Stank

  1. HennyB says:

    I was really happy for Vaughn Taylor. He certainly deserved the win. For every Rickie Fowler or Jordan Spieth, their are hundreds of guys out there working their butts off, sleeping in their cars, grinding it out week to week just to try and earn a living. They don’t have multi-million dollar sponsorship deals or qualify for tournaments due to a sponsor’s exemption. The poor guy hasn’t won in ten years and hasn’t had his tour card for the past three years. It’s one of the reasons I like Patrick Reed so much. He’s a true journeymen. Back in 2012 he Monday qualified six times just to get into a tournament. That’s a rough way to go. You show up to a tournament, pay an entry fee, play against a bunch of guys and hopefully play well enough to qualify. If you don’t, tough luck, see you at the next stop.

  2. HennyB says:

    I’m not going to be judge and jury when it comes to grown men crying but I don’t like it when people give these guys a hard time when they break down after winning a tournament. If people only knew how hard it is not only to make it to the PGA tour but to actually win a tournament. I don’t blame these guys for one second. It’s not as easy as it looks, especially for these knock around guys just trying to keep their cards. Getting that win gives them a tremendous amount of security and takes a ton of weight off their shoulders.

    • lannyh says:

      Vaughn Taylor didn’t cry, though, did he? I thought he was incredibly composed. I expected him to cry, but he seemed calm and joyful in the interviews I saw. His wife was the sobbing one, I thought.

      • HennyB says:

        No, no he didn’t cry(I though he was going to though) I was just making a statement in general.

      • lannyh says:

        I gotta say this, while on the topic. Did you see Fowler crying after losing in the playoff. Stephanie Wei had a link. I choked up myself. It was painful, but it made me appreciate just how much it would have meant to him to win in front of his family. In this day and age of “So what?” “Who cares?” and “What does it matter?”, it was heartening to see someone who could not hide how much it meant to him.

        I’m really becoming a Fowler fan. Of course, the fact that my tough love column springboarded him to great success plays a role in that…

  3. Ken says:

    Kyle Porter wrote today that “events seem bigger when Justin Timberlake is involved.”

    Really? Porter writes like a teenage girl with his worship of celebrities like Woods and Timberlake.

    • lannyh says:

      Surely he meant that tongue-in-cheek? I don’t post at CBS any longer, so I’ve completely broken the habit of reading that stuff. Not to mention Elling’s comments about how CBS booted him out to make way for they hobbyist (basically) bloggers. The only time I go there — well, other than to troll the NFL posters after another domestic abuse incident — is to scan Porter’s titles and count the Tiger ones! “Man Lands on Mars and Tiger Made This Awesome Tweet.”

      • Ken says:

        Oh he was serious. Ever see those post-tourney columns where he gives various players letter grades? He included Timberlake (who does play ridiculously slow):

        Justin Timberlake: He gets knocked for playing too slowly, but like Mickelson, events just feel bigger when Timberlake is involved. He played some acoustic guitar, danced with Carlton and actually played decent golf on a week in which many amateurs did not. Grade: B+

        Timberlake seems like a nice guy. But really, how many fans does this guy have who are over 25?

      • lannyh says:

        Well, I have to agree with your interpretation. No hint of irony that I see. (Though, I suppose Porter might claim everything he writes for CBS is satire…)

        About Timberlake, having fans under 25 ain’t horrible for the sport of golf. (I remember wanting to see Eddie Van Halen one year; he choked, choked, choked; could not get the ball airborne). And Timberlake carries a 2-handicap or somesuch. I don’t know any of his music, but I did see the Social Network, which he was in.

        I’ve gotten to where I don’t read any bloggers except when I’m “checking in” on them for something I’m writing here. I mainly do Google news searches, and most of those returns are for the major outlets (including good stuff from Europe).

  4. Jaybird77 says:

    At one point during the broadcast they flashed a stat that Phil was 23/23 on puts of 6 feet or less. It was right before he had a put of 5 feet, lets say 1 inch. I thought to myself, jinx! I could be wrong but I think it was right before he lipped out on 18 which would have put him in a playoff.

    • Sports-realist. says:

      hey i haven’t won the lottery yet in 998 out of 998 attempts….let’s hope the jinx works both ways for me…

  5. HennyB says:

    I did see Fowler’s press conference and I felt really bad for the guy. That was an honest genuine display of emotion. Rick’s a first class guy in my book. It’s very refreshing. I’m so sick of all the robots in the media and politics today. Always saying the “right thing” at the right time, regurgitating the memorized line they have been instructed to say. I thought the same thing when Spieth’s sister ran and jumped into his arms after he won. Likewise with Darren Clarke at the Ryder Cup shortly after his wife passed away. The guy was in tears because of the love and support the crowd was giving him. Europe as well as the U.S. They’re real people with huge hearts, it’s not a put on.

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