'I've got a lot of problems with you people and now you are going to hear about it.'----Frank Costanza
December 23 is a great date from television history. The iconic TV show Seinfeld created it's own holiday..Festivus. Festivus captures the drama of getting together with your family at Christmas, without the exchanging of gifts, decorations (Frank found tinsel 'distracting') or spirit originally intended for the day. So, in honor of Festivus and Frank Costanza (who is still trying to convince Mr. Kruger is it a real holiday), I am going to air some of my grievances/issues I have with golf.
1. Slow Play--We here in the US have made an art-form out of slow play. Dr. David Cook encourages golfers that each shot should be like 'painting a Picasso' in their mind before they play it. Well...Picasso would finish some of his artwork before some golfers take the club back. And I am not just talking about the casual, weekend players. I see it in college golf...perhaps the worst offenders. Players mark 1 ft putts, click rangefinders 6 times to get a yardage (they finally get it to the flag, but they still don't what it is to cover the deep bunker in front of it), wait to play their 2nd shot on a par 5 even though they have very little chance to reach the green, walk at the pace of a sloth during rounds...I could go on! One of the reason I love playing the UK is the expected pace of play is to take no more than 4 hours. Last summer, the slowest round I played there was probably 3 1/2 hours in our group. Everyone in the US, from professionals, down through the college ranks, to the weekend hacker can speed up pace of play. We are trying to bring more people into the game...seeing rounds of golf take 5+ hours is not helping bring players into the game in a world where schedules are hectic and recreational time is at a minimum.
2. The Imbiciles Who Have to Yell After Every Shot on TV--I am so tired of hearing 'Babba Booey (sorry if it is misspelled...I really don't care), 'Mashed Potatoes' and other inane chirps from spectators. Are you so low in self-esteem that you need to hear yourself say these non-sequitur things? Of course...your blood-alcohol level may have something to do with it also. Either way, to all idiots out there who do this...STOP! Go show your idiocy in other ways or just do it in the privacy of your own home during Christmas/Festivus with your family who tolerates you (at least you think) despite it.
3. Television Coverage of Golf Events--It seems no matter how Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods are playing at a tour event, TV cameras have to show us their every shot. I am sometimes surprised that we don't get shots of them slipping into the Port-a-Potty to relieve themselves. Thank goodness we have some new stars rising on the PGA Tour...but no matter what is happening at the top of the leaderboard with Rory, Jordan, Dustin or Rickie...we still more of Tiger and Phil 10 shots behind and struggling.
These are just a few of my grievances regarding golf...if you disagree, we can always move our discussion to the 'Feats of Strength.' Happy Festivus!
'Cultivate attention because attention is currency.' --Chris Brogan
The Ladies European Tour drew a good bit of attention this week with the debut of Paige Spiranac. The Instagram and internet sensation was playing in her first professional tournament at the Ladies Dubai Masters. Having played golf at San Diego State, Paige turned professional in August and was invited as a sponsor's exemption to the tournament field. She was a decent player at SDSU, but not a national champion or All-American. Instead, she has been branded as the 'Hottest Athlete in the World' (unofficial, of course) because of her presence on Instagram and Twitter. She has 547,000 followers on Instagram and probably has the largest presence on social media of any female golfer. She had not played an event on the LPGA or Futures Tour prior to the debut in Dubai this week.
Of course, her lack of tournament results and credentials drew the ire of many in the field and in the golf world. European Tour professional Henriaetta Zuel said, 'It’s really embarrassing for women’s golf. Social media narcissism is not a criteria [for entry into the tournament].' Golf writers and international media criticized her for unfairly profiting from her social media presence. It even produced this editorial cartoon in the Irish Examiner
What these critics do not understand is that as a sponsor (in this case Omega and Dubai Tourism) can invite anyone of their choosing because they are putting up the money for the event! It's not like Omega invited my dog to play in the tournament (despite not having an Instagram account, she is the prettiest dog on the internet). Paige shot 77-79 to miss the cut...not bad in her first professional event against some of the best players in the world. No matter what her result was for the week, inviting Spiranac was a stroke of genius for the sponsors of the tournament. What was the largest benefit of her playing in this event? ATTENTION. Outside of major championships, when was the last time a Ladies European Tour (heck maybe even LPGA) event has this much spotlight? She brought more attention to this tournament than it would have received had she not played. This is what sponsors pay for! It is well within their right to have someone play in their event which they feel can bring a return on their investment in the tournament.
But people like Paige are going to help draw more people to golf, especially among millennials. The golf population is getting old and it needs an infusion of youth. People that millennials can identify with through the internet draw them into the game. Despite not having won a tournament yet, Spiranac is good for the game. Until Rickie Fowler started winning events, he was the cool kid, wearing the flat bill caps and loud colors. But the kids loved him...and still do no matter how many events he wins! Spiranac with continued practice and competition could develop into the LPGA's Fowler... and that would be a great thing for their tour! More attention for that tour will help them develop more sponsors and more money. That's Marketing 101. When the players are competing for more prize money, I don't think they will be criticizing players like Spiranac...because players like her can help elevate the visibility of that tour.