Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Not the Game, It's the Money

Once again it’s time for the readers of Eye On Golf to provide a little feedback. Within the past week a couple of the ruling (albeit self-appointed) bodies of golf have demonstrated exactly where their priorities are concerning the game. I am grateful to Geoff Shackelford for providing these two tidbits although he did not make the connection.

Exhibit A: The USGA convinced 82 people, apparently all Amex card members, to pony up $900 each for the privilege of enjoying a 2007 U.S. Open Preview Day. The day was supposed to include lunch with a seminar on how to prepare for a U.S. Open and a round of golf at this year’s U.S. Open site, Oakmont C.C. But being the marketing wizards that they are from the county of Oz in northern NJ, the Blue Coats produced Tiger Woods and Mike Tirico to conduct the festivities. Tiger just happened to be at Oakmont for two or three practice rounds and I’m sure Tirico was hanging around ABC Sports with nothing to do this time of year.

Exhibit B: The PGA Tour is set to introduce a new scoreboard featuring the latest in high-tech “stuff.” And you can make a safe wager that there is definite coincidence that the initial run will be at the The Players Championship beginning May 7. Perfect timing for those golf fans headed to the TPC. However, when talking about the new scoreboards and the fan base that the PGA Tour attracts, Tom Wade, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the PGA Tour, expertly summed up the whole situation. NY Times reporter Michel Marriott got the whole thing…

“Technology is moving down the road and we’re moving with it,” he (Wade) said. “If you don’t move with it, you(‘re) not going to be around. You’ve got to serve the fan.”

Call it part of the Tiger Effect, the significant migration of a younger and more racially and ethnically diverse group to golf since Tiger Woods turned professional in 1996. Although much of the PGA Tour’s fan base remains mature and affluent, Wade said, significant numbers in that group are “heavy technology adaptors.”

“As we say: We don’t reach everyone. Just the people with all the money,” Wade said.

Ah, well said, Mr. Wade. It's all about the money, not the game.

We will now allow our perceptive and discriminating readers to produce their own insightful conclusions to the above incidents.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2007 Masters Observations

These next few days are always filled with comments, analysis and observations from the great scribes of the game. To get a little taste of the twaddle that is being produced check out my friend RonMon. He’ll get you started.

But then there are the valid observations – mine. These are the one produced by concentrated analysis and a sharp eye for the game.

The cost of a Dave Pelz Short Game School has been greatly reduced following PhillyMick’s bunker adventures on the very first hole on Sunday. Phil took seven (7) shots on the hole, three of them from bunkers. If you hurry you can probably get a greatly reduced rate at the newly opened Dave Pelz Short Game Clinic in Las Vegas at Paiute Golf Resort.

On the other hand the cost of a visit to someone in Zach Johnson’s entourage just about doubled by Sunday evening. Personally I would like to spend some time with his drive-the-ball-straight coach. If a few others in the field had found as many fairways as Johnson when it really counted, the outcome may have been different. He was second is driving accuracy among those who completed four rounds. Johnson gave new meaning to the observation that it’s easier to play the game when you have a full swing at the ball.

Vern Lundquist has got to go. I know he’s just been inducted into some Sportscasters’ Hall of Fame, as Jim Nantz was so quick to inform us, but after listening to him bumble and stumble his way through the Kraft-Nabisco as the host, the Masters was too much to take.

There was something wrong with Tiger. There was no “eye of the tiger” there. Have the Wizards of Augusta finally got the course Tiger-proofed? And his usually precise decision making was questionable. Tiger possesses one of the best short games in golf. So why not layup with the second shot on 15? There was not much of a reward for the risk he took. And the hole locations on 16-18 were also quite vulnerable.

In several ways this Masters had the feel of a U.S. Open. High scores, rock-hard and lightening-fast green, errant tee shots and cotton-mouth-leaving-you-spitless pressure all contributed to that feel. Yes, I know there was no super high, ultra thick rough, but this Masters just proves that you don’t need that to get the greatest players in the world frustrated. Just trick up the greens.

And last but not least, for an interesting perspective, although often cynical, go to Geoff Shackelford’s website.