Cleat Geeks

PGA to highlight the stars, just not there own

Last weekend I turned on the television to watch what I thought would be golf. I had checked out the leaderboard on my phone and noticed the leaders were currently playing. To my chagrin, the fifteen minutes I tuned in, I did not see any golf. Instead I saw Tiger Woods hit the same three shot over and over and over again and then there was endless commentary from a slew of

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

broadcasters about his bad back as we repeatedly watched Tiger climb into a golf cart. Just as I thought I would actually see some golf, they switched from the Tiger Woods comedy show to the exploits of Phil Mickelson. They showed a plethora of replays of missed putts. Of course then there was more endless commentary about why he was missing. At this point I turned the TV off and realized the PGA has a big problem and it is all of their own making. The PGA & the networks insist on marketing its past instead of embracing its future. I feel it is a strategy that will haunt them if they do not figure it out.

This week the PGA will get a reprieve as the tour lands on the shores of California for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The tournament affectionately known as the worlds largest clambake has its roots embedded since 1947 when the ole crooner himself, Bing Crosby, invited all his friends to play golf with the pro’s. Today it has become one of the most popular stops on the PGA tour for the fans. Unfortunately for the PGA it’s not to see the golf starts but rather to see the stars of the entertainment world hacking around on a golf course. Add in some cooperate CEO’s and Presidents and you have a glorified fantasy camp for the rich and famous.  All of this is fine, the fans seem to enjoy it and some levity is always a good thing. Even I a golf purist was entertained watching Clint Eastwood hold Jack Lemon by his belt as Jack attempted to hit a shot on a severe slope. This week fans will have the pleasure of watching  the Ray Romano’s, Justin Timberlake’s and Kevin Costner’s etc. of the world. I am sure we will even see some of Bill Murray’s shenanigans on a golf course. All this fun though hides the fact that the PGA has an identity crisis.

Truth be told I bet the suits at the PGA offices in a quiet moment would admit that 2014 was not a banner year for the tour. Dustin Johnson one of the newer stars on tour went on a leave of absence or was suspended for a failed drug test depending on whom you want to believe. Bubba Watson won a major but he demonstrated some obnoxious poor sportsmanship that I am sure made the PGA cringe. Tiger Woods was spending more time on the ski slopes watching his girlfriend then on a golf course do to rehabbing what has become maybe a chronic back problem. In addition, Phil Mickelson was busy lynching Tom Watson to accomplish much of anything not winning on the tour for the first time in nine seasons. This leads us to the worst moment of the 2014 season, the humiliating defeat in the Ryder Cup. The USA were 32 shots worse than the Euro’s and I do not care who the captain was and how many pod systems Phil Mickelson wants nothing would have made a difference.

PGA Golfer Billy Horschel

PGA Golfer Billy Horschel

The most puzzling moment may have been how does Billy Horschel, the player who won the PGA’s version of the playoffs, not be included on the Ryder Cup team. I hope that the PGA will welcome the 2015 season promoting the future and not rehashing the past.

This week’s tournament is being played on one of the most historic and panoramic courses in the world. Holes 9,10,11,17 and 18 are some of the most recognizable and picturesque holes on any golf course anywhere. Some of the most memorable golf strokes were made at the par 3 17th. In the 1972 US Open Jack Nicklaus stuck a 1 iron hitting the pin leaving a tap in birdie to that lead to his 11th major title. The same hole was the scene during the 1982 US Open as Tom Watson chipped in from the heavy rough to secure his victory over Jack. Most modern day fans will remember the 2000 US Open the year Tiger set an Open record shooting 12 under par beating his closest opponent by 15 shots, which is also an Open record. Augusta National and St. Andrews can only challenge the beauty and the history of Pebble Beach.

I am looking forward to this week’s tournament and “golf” fans need to as well. Tiger Woods isn’t playing because he is looking for a tire pump to re-inflate his “deflated glutes”. Phil Mickelson also isn’t playing because he’s trying to fix his “beyond pathetic”  putting.  Some viewers will tune out because they aren’t playing and this is a problem the PGA needs to fix. The PGA must stop promoting the icon’s that are not currently relevant by rehashing and talking about their struggles. The PGA needs to market the great group of players coming through the ranks and let fans find new icons of the sport. They may not pump their fists, scream and jump up and down. Their charisma may be low but their talent is not lacking. Frankly, fans who need all the physical gyrations and emotion to watch golf should stick to reality TV.

By no means am I asking or telling the fans, media or networks to dismiss the accomplishments of players like Woods and Mickelson. I have an extreme appreciation for the talents, what they have meant to the sport, and what they have accomplished.  But currently they just are not relevant due to their struggles and or injuries and until they are, we should appreciate the players who are relevant week in and week out. We need to see and hear more about them and what they have done not what some players used to do and no longer can. All athletes at some point need to deal with diminishing skills and it is time that the PGA, media and the networks deal with it also as it tries to continue to promote the sport and what is and isn’t important.

PGA Golfer Jimmy Walker.

PGA Golfer Jimmy Walker.

I want to see the Jimmy Walker’s, Rickie Fowler’s, the Bubba Watson’s etcand that is who the PGA should also want to see. Golf survived the retirements of Jones, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson and it will survive if Woods and Mickelson do not return to form. I know I will be watching this weekend and past looking for the next icon or icons, hopefully all golf fans will also.

…. In addition, for those wondering, if Rory Mclroy is in 50th place, I do not want to see him either. Let us not disrespect the ones who are winning by focusing on the ones who are losing.

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