<body>

Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, April 04, 2005 at 12:12 PM

Augusta National - One of Golf's Axis of Evil?

The Masters at Augusta National is my favorite Golf event. Maybe even my favorite sporting event period.

It just so happens that my favorite golf TV broadcaster, CBS, covers The Masters. Sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn't it?

Well not so much. You see, Augusta National represents many of the things that I despise in golf. Led by Chairman Hootie Johnson, Augusta has a long history of being pretty damn uptight and high-fallutin. They take issue with anything that doesn't agree with the 50s era that they choose to live. Remember Martha Burk's protest of Augusta National's all-male membership policy in 2003? She would have been more successful protesting the war in Iraq. If there is one place on earth where women will never roam, it's the member's only clubhouse at Augusta. The only good thing about Augusta's backward mindset is that you can still get a Pimento Cheese sandwich for a buck, whatever that is. I can't eat it anyway since I'm lactose-intolerant.

But the worst offense committed by Hootie and the Blowhards is their Stevie Williams-like bullying of CBS Sports. Hootie maintains that they have no control over their TV partner. Well, technically Angelina Jolie has no control over me. But if she promised to kiss me with those bee-stung lips every time I played golf in a dress, I'd be at Ann Taylor to fill my closet with size 4s pronto. Similarly, Augusta controls something that all sports television broadcasters would wear a dress for: The Masters television contract. It is the holy grail of golf broadcasting. Because Augusta refuses to grant long-term television contracts, they really have their TV broadcaster by the cojones. Since 1956, Augusta has granted a series of one-year TV deals to CBS Sports. There's no way that CBS will ever do anything to kill its golden egg-laying goose and everyone knows it. As a result, Augusta oversees CBS' coverage like Big Brother, and CBS knows that they must please The Master(s).

For example, Augusta limits CBS Sports to broadcast only four minutes of commercials each hour. In addition, CBS must receive final approval of all commercial copy from Augusta. When the champion is introduced at Butler Cabin to received his green jacket, an Augusta representative, not CBS, asks the first on-air question.

But the most regoddamndiculous thing that I've heard are Augusta's various linguistic rules for The Masters TV broadcast. The long-standing rumor has it that Augusta dictates the "proper" language to be used during the broadcast. Listen carefully to The Masters broadcast. Supposedly, there can be no mention of prize money. Certain familiar terms are blasphemous. "Fans" is considered an obscene four-letter word that must be replaced with "patrons." Similarly, "rough" must be termed "the second cut." Violations are often met with draconian penalties.

In 1966, Augusta took offense at Jack Whitaker's reference to a "mob" scene around the 18th green, and he was removed from the broadcasts immediately thereafter.

During the 1994 telecast, Gary McCord said that the greens were so slick they looked "bikini-waxed", and that it was so difficult to get up-and-down if you flew the 17th green there were "body bags" behind it. McCord was taken off the CBS team the following year and hasn't been back since.

Of course, Augusta appearing innocent to the public is a major part of the deal. Hootie has claimed several times that the club doesn't decide who CBS uses during the broadcasts. "We really don't make that decision. CBS puts together that team," said Hootie. "That's their call. We don't try to structure their organization."

Of course, CBS would never disagree with The Master(s). Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports, has confirmed that CBS makes the decision annually. "We make the decision which is best for our program," McManus has said. "Year in, year out, it's the one golf program people want to watch the most."

Yeah right. Gary McCord is one of the most entertaining personalities in golf, period. He and David Feherty make golf appealing to the masses. Together, their wit and chemistry is best for any golf coverage. McManus knows that. His statement's obviously a cry for sympathy. He really meant, "We all know that these guys who run Augusta are wackos. But what can I do? The moment we stop kissing their arses, our TV contact won't be renewed and I'm out of a job. Please understand."

It's been over 10 years since Gary McCord last broadcast from The Masters. Think of all the brilliant commentary that we have been deprived. And for what reason? A couple of innocent words that would be suitable for any G-rated program? To be fair, the Masters television rights fees CBS pays to Augusta are far less than that of similar sports events. But Augusta's absurd policies don't just punish CBS and Gary McCord, they punish all of us. Kim Jong Il would be proud.

P.S. You'd have to be ridiculous not to pick one of the Big 4 (Tiger, Els, Mickelson, Vijay) to win The Masters. Therefore, my pick is Luke Donald. With 3 top 10 finishes this year, he's primed. Luke, may the Force be with you!

Labels:

Blogger Harp said...

Awesome - great entry! I was in SC last year for a golf trip and I ran into a guy that is a regular each year at the Masters and he told me that they spray paint brown spots and other plant life. Also, sandwiches come in green plastic wrap so if they are dropped on the grounds they blend for the the cameras - talk about anal. Didn't Augusta National just open up more holes to CBS for broadcasting as of a couple of years ago?  

~

Blogger dave said...

Now that was an eye opener.  

~

Blogger mediaguru @ HookedOnGolfBlog.com said...

I too am bummed that McCord and Feherty don't do the Masters gig. Augusta, with it's amazingly sloped and extremely fast greens would give plenty of ammo for those great annoucer's guns.

There is another course that is highly exclusive and does not allow women. I played it and have some stories to tell....

Mediaguru @ http://hookedongolf.blogspot.com  

~

Blogger Benedict said...

Got to disagree somewhat with you and the comments above. Evidence suggest that AN knows how to present a major golf tournement. It is revered by professional golfers around the world. It is the most difficult ticket for a fan to get (and thats for a practice round). TV ratings are through the roof, and, of course, when Tigers in the lead there to the moon.

As far as Feherty and McCord are concern, its a matter of taste. I think Feherty occassionaly is funny and does a much better job when McCord is no where in sight. McCord is just silly-stupid and IMHO stinks as an announcer,

Finally, while we might disagree about AN and their presentation of the Masters. let me say that I'm glad you put up a blog about golf and I plan to stop by often.

Hit it where you can find it, BB  

~

Anonymous Wedgehead said...

Great rant.

During this "Toonament" I am wondering about the course itself. Sure, it's pretty on TV (can't wait to watch it in HD today), but doesn't it seem like there is quite a bit of "fakeness" to it? The green wrappers are news to me, but are more of what I'm getting at. It's the blue-dyed water, the spray-painted grass and the pumps under the greens that make me wonder what the players really think about it.

Heaven forbid a player ever spoke out about it, but seeing the way the greens have treated some players has to make me believe that some think it's a joke, and not real golf.

I also wonder what the course plays like the rest of the year? What does the average elitest southern-state senator shoot on a course like that? 150? 200? Or do the greens get shaggy so he can save double-bogey?  

~

Blogger NJX70 said...

you know what's great? A man gets fired for saying something looks "bikini waxed" but isn't that fun? I mean most of us enjoy a little sexual humor, why not? It's just another example of people repressing what's actually entertaining on TV.  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on. Your post was ridiculous.

Let me guess, you are a democrat?
Augusta National can do whatever the heck they want. They are a private organization. Kim Jung Il? Hahaha......get a grip.

Jack  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are definately nit-picking. I don't see a problem with Augusta National wanting to make the course look good on TV. Why wouldn't they want their course to look pleasing in the national spotlight? Green wrappers for the sandwhiches? That sounds like a pretty good idea. The course looks nicer when it doesn't appear to be crud infested.

It seems to me that most of you just want to hammer AN because you will never get into the club. As a private club, they should be allowed to pick and choose who they want to admit. If they only want the best people, then they should only allow those they see fit. If they don't want women, who cares? How many women would REALLY be interested in joining anyway? And besides, I don't see men protesting outside of Curves because they don't allow male members.

It seems to me like another rant of a marxist who can't handle the fact that there are places he can't join, and is overly concerned with "equality", but turns a blind eye to reverse-discrimination. It is people like you that need to get out of your fantasy land and enter real life.

Just stick to talking golf... not politics.  

~

Blogger Jat said...

"Let me guess, you are a democrat?"

Let me guess, you are from Texas? Because only there would someone be so politically insecure to infer someone's party affiliation from a golf blog.

"It seems to me like another rant of a marxist..."

Wow, that's a lot to infer from an article about a golf course. Seems as if you're the one bringing politics into the conversation.

"It is people like you that need to get out of your fantasy land and enter real life."

It is people like you guys that need to get a sense of humor.  

~

Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Jack,

Of course Augusta can "do whatever the heck they want" and I have no problem with that. Just like the Soup Nazi can can "do whatever the heck" he wants since he owns his own business.

But how boring would it be if Seinfeld couldn't comment on the Soup Nazi's ridiculous rules?

Can someone please help Jack find a sense of humor? He really needs one...  

~

Blogger Lanny Blows said...

ddd  

~

Blogger Lanny Blows said...

You guys amaze me. The fact that Gary McCord can't say a goddamn thing without it being amusing is about as annoying as CBS's golf coverage. These announcers think it's more about them then the viewers watching golf shots. If I have to watch the Masters one more time with Jack Nicklaus memories, I'm going to puke. I can't stand listening to Jim Nantz talk about this guy like he's the next coming of Christ....SHUT_UP and show golf shots  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the USA golf coverage last week and thru the first 20 minutes, I think I saw 2 golf shots, 10 commercials, the leaderboard 20 times, the lighthouse 15 times and 4 interviews. We need to start the crusade.....Please watch the golf channel do a tournament on the weekends.........all they do is show golf shots. They don't have 10 announcers on the course annoying the hell out of us.  

~

Anonymous slammer said...

this is some great dialog. Thank god for stuffy rich old southern farts and nitwits like gary mccord - they make life more interesting.

i just wish the "augusta whipped" golf pros would band together and serve hootie and his anal retentive croonies a shitburger sandwich at next year's dinner! now that would be a great news story.  

~

Anonymous Juantex said...

Lessee now.

Yup, I'm a Texan. Naw, no democrats in this house. Insecure? Maybe... I'll ask my wife (if she ever comes back home).

Anyway, it was a nice article, a good rehash of many things I've heard before, and, yes, some new accusations, uh... revelations.

Love the Masters (golf), tired of the Cabin-fever interviews, appreciate the general lack of commercials, and have managed to cope with McC's absence without having a breakdown.

I stumbled on to your site a day or so ago. Think I'll stay around awhile. From one who will tee it up just about anyplace there's a hole in the ground, keep up the great work. Very enjoyable.

Juantex  

~

Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Hey Juantex,

Thanks for the comments. There's quite a number of Texans around here gettin' ready for the Rose Bowl. It should be a great game.

I had tickets, but I couldn't resist selling them on eBay!  

~

Anonymous Juantex said...

Juantex back. Boy, life is one big paradox. I was an undergrad at NM A&M, grad school at Southern Cal, kids at North Texas and UT Dallas.

So who to root for? I prefer any number of teams before the Horns. As long as the sun rises on Thursday, and I get in my nine holes after work each day, life is good, and whoever walks away as Nat'l Champs I'll live with it.

I believe there's a little to-do in Hawaii this weekend. I'll watch that with much more fervor.

Juantex  

~

Blogger Golf Grouch said...

Juantex,

You sound like a true golf nut!

Thanks for reading and commenting. I really do appreciate it. I hope to write some stuff in the future to keep you coming back!  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, great site and blog.

Mixed emotions here....golf has grown in recent years many times over what it had in the past, mostly, of course, due to Tiger.
With that growth comes a great deal more diversity in the individuals that play. Some crowds have become rowdy and overbearing (many problems at recent Ryder Cups) and, in my opinion, many of the "patrons" of other events have become too loud and boisterous. I think what the people at the Masters are trying to do is maintain the reverence of the game that is in jeopardy of going away. Are they a little overboard?...Probably, but I see it as a measure taken in the right direction. The Masters is the one tournament each year that gives us a look at how things once were, a look at another aspect of the game and its personality that many are not familiar with.

Thaks for the opportunity to read and reply here.

Phantom  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site and blogs!

Mixed emotions here.....the growth of golf has skyrocket in recent years, no doubt due mostly to Tiger. With that growth comes a much more diverse group of fans or "patrons" that has, at times, started to get a little loud or out of hand at some events (the Ryder Cup has been plagued by this in recent years). I thnk what the people at AN are trying to do is offer an event that maintains the reverence that once was. Are they going overboard? Maybe, but it gives everyone a more insightful look at golf, it's history and the games personality as it once was.

Phantom  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like "Masters Moments" the best. I never get sick of the 86 Master's highlights. Any real golf fan wouldn't. It doesn't really matter who broadcasts the Masters because you can't really mess it up. There is so much history and so many highlights they could go on for hours with extra stuff. How long have they been using that same music everytime they come back from commercial or when they're showing the leaderboard? Maybe they could change that up a little. I'm also wondering why in the hell they didn't show Tiger Woods's second shots into the par 5's this April? What was up with that? He was in contention and was going for it on Par 5s on the back 9. Did Augusta tell CBS not to show it? You know they did. There is no way in hell CBS would show Mike Wier's chip on a par 4 instead of Tiger Woods's second shot to the Par 5's on the back 9 (second 9!) without some sort of outside influence. Anyway...let's just hope and pray NBS never gets the rights because then every April of every year we get to hear johnny Miller talk about his 61 at Oakmont.  

~

Blogger woundedduck said...

It was a 63 at Oakmont, and at least it's better than listening to Lanny Wadkins drone on about his respectable-yet-unnoteworthy career.  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't even wanna ask how you know that you're a size 4 at ann taylor's... maybe don imus and gary mccord are the same person?!?! they probably bikini-wax those nappy-headed holes!!
-jamie  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fantastic post. Listening to Hootie announce the "Toonament" was annoying to me. Pompous comes to mind.

Sure, The Masters is one of the majors and a beautiful track, full of tradition. However, I alwasy get the feeling they think they are bigger than the game. No golf tournament is bigger than the game....period.

With respect to commentators, I love David, but can tire of Gary. Both have their niche. Lanny Wadkins....thank goodness she is gone. My 96 year old gramma complains less than Lanny and is way more positive. Jim Nantz is tolerable. My fav is Mike Tirico.  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I want the Masters to stay "hi-falootin." Didn't anyone else grow up with dreams that someday they'd play courses like Augusta? - with perfect greens, blooming shrubs, whispering pines, sun glinting through the trees, as your crisp 7-iron arcs over Ray's Creek...... This was something to dream about, but it was real. A golf heaven to hope for as I played Hill n' Dale Par 3 because that's all I could afford.

Well, I for one wish they'd keep it as it is.
However, finding a more likable representative than Hootie would be a plus. Though I'd suffer a thousand hooties if they'd just get rid of the know-nothing hair-brained Clampet, and the know-everything hair-less Kostis. I've taken to simply muting the TV when they start speaking, because they annoy me so much with their inane commentary. Both exert maximum effort to "sound" smart, and this works as well as when someone "tries" to be funny. And they're wrong, about nearly everything they say - every analysis, every green read (despite sitting in the same booth all day, watching the same putts), every everything. Good NIGHT! They're awful. With all the washed-up has-beens out there, surely CBS can find two others out there whose egos don't taint EVERYTHING they say.... surely...? CBS??  

~

Anonymous chipshot said...

The worst part of CBS coverage of the Masters is the syrupy, sentimental background music. Gag me with a spoon. I notice that the Golf Channel or whoever it is doing the first two days gets the music thing right. That's about my only complaint, though the too obvious elitism is also a little hard to take  

~

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought the Masters is a bit of a joke for many of the reasons already stated. In fact, I don't even see it as a Major, it's just too ridiculous.

AL  

~

Post a Comment