[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.