Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, August 01, 2005 at 10:57 AM

Boredom at the Bridges

Last week, I watched the final installment of the made for prime time TV golf event, "Battle at The Bridges." Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods and John Daly and will split the $1.2 million top prize. After I had awakened, I concluded that it was some of the least compelling TV that I had ever seen. If there was such a thing as televised competitive knitting, I think that I would have rather watched that.

Sadly, I have seen all 7 installments since the series debuted in 1999. Each time that I've watched the event, I've hoped that it would be interesting or at least better than the one before. Each time I've been disappointed. At least in prior installments, ABC tried to keep the event interesting with launch monitor analysis, long-drive competitions, etc. This time around, ABC didn't utilize anything. No launch monitors, no slo-mo, nada. They didn't even bother to mark the yardages on the long holes to show the driving distances. It was like everyone just gave up - the players, the announcers, the sign boys, and eventually me. My friend Tony over at Hooked On Golf observed the same thing.

The series is billed as the first and only golf event televised live in prime time. One of its goals is to deliver golf to an audience that might not otherwise have been exposed to televised golf. While "Monday Night Golf" might accomplish this goal, it does little to actually generate lasting interest in televised golf. In fact, I think that it does a disservice - not only to televised golf, but to golf in general. If my first exposure to golf was this dreadful exhibition of ennui, I likely would have never picked up a golf club. Instead, I may have gone so far as to despise golf and join some radical group hell-bent on abolishing it from TV.

I think that the main problem with live televised golf, in general, is that there is a relatively scarce amount of action to actually watch. Give me a Tivo, and I can watch a 3 hour golf event in 30 minutes tops. This problem is greatly exacerbated when there's only one group on the course. Watching such golf becomes a mundane pattern of watching 4 guys hit their ball, waiting 10-15 mins. until they hit them again, rinse, spin, and then repeat. The only way that this can be even remotely viewable is if they fit in an episode of the "Making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue" into the down times. On second thought, there'd still be enough room to squeeze in an NFL preseason preview show and maybe a Seinfeld re-run or two. Now that would be must-see TV.

Blogger Miranda said...

Having missed the first 6 installments (I wish someone could have told me beforehand that Sergio beat Tiger Woods, I might have tuned back into golf a lot sooner), I have nothing to compare this last event to, but I thought it was ok. Daly and Mickelson were the chatty cathys of the bunch, which I think was expected. Maybe I don't watch enough golf to know when I'm seeing something boring. I really need to get the Golf Channel :)  


Blogger Flyer said...

The only way they could have made that snooze-a-thon entertaining would have been to arm the competitors. Can't you just see Phil trying to tee off while Tiger asks Steve Williams to hand him the 9mm (don't worry, Stevie, we're downwind).

Really, though, there's no pretending that Tiger and Phil have any desire to be in each other's presence and it makes for pretty bad TV to show them together in an event neither cares about if they're not going to break out the daggers, at least verbally.

As for Retief Goosen, I admire the talent and the (pre-US Open) rep for being cool under pressure, but he's not going to ignite any fires (not even to light John Daly's Marlboro) on TV. He's the only man in golf who can put you to sleep while shooting 62.

Daly can be enterttaining, as we all know, but ABC has to avoid showing him with one of those aforementioned Marlboros, that rules out like three quarters of the on course time that he's not actually hitting a ball. So when's he supposed to be John Daly, Man of the People?

I admire ABC for trying, but it's time to shelve the idea (as they have realized) until a better format or more intriguing characters are found.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it - Mick is a goon. 100% grade A Tool. He shows no respect for the accomplishments of Woods, is more arrogant than Kobe Bryant and is really a Nationwide Tour player with a great short game.

Why is it that no one is riding this guy for having won only one major? Everyone jumps on Tiger if he doesn't win a major in a season, but if Mickelson wins only one in his career, he is the "People's Champion." What the heck is that? Since when is Phil a rival for Tiger? And why won't anyone in the press (other than Skip Bayless) acknowledge that Phil is loser?

It's time to put Phil Mickelson in the second tier of golfers. He is really like a Kenny Perry plus a major.

I was at the final round of the 2001 Masters and I followed Mickelson and Woods around all day. On the downhill Par 5 (Hole #2), I saw Stevie Williams walk between Mickelson and his ballmark while Flabby was crouched down trying to read his putt. Stevie clearly did this on purpose. Fat Boy Phil shot a nasty look at Williams and it was very clear there is no love between Tiger and Mr. Man-boobs. We need someone to figure out why these guys despise each other so much.  


Blogger CB said...

Wow a nationwide player with a great short game... I guess that is good for 7 or 8 digits a year.

He may not be Tiger's rival but then again, no one is. Tiger's only real rivals are Jack, Jones, and old man Par. No one around right now can beat him straight up. The media stretches to find rivals like Vijay and Phil for the 'fans' because they think we need something compelling to make us watch the wonder-child. The truth is, I'd watch him play one man practice rounds.

I think when you have that kind of once in a generation talent the inclination is to squeeze everything you can out of it. Tiger, the media, the fans, all want everything they can get out of his career. Ten green jackets, and 1/2 dozen Opens might be enough for starters but by Tuesday some writer will find fault. They want him to be pushed so he has to make forty foot snakes with more pressure on his brow. I think most people fail to realize that no one person or event will ever put more pressure on Tiger than history and his own sense of it. At least, that is why he is so compelling for me to watch.

Phil does not have that over him, no one else on tour does. It is hard to blame a wonderful golfer, athlete, or individual for not being superhuman. How interesting would it be if they were all Tiger, Michael, or the Babe?  


Blogger Miranda said...

"Everyone jumps on Tiger if he doesn't win a major in a season" -- And rightly so. Through his actions and what I perceive as a snotty on course attitude, he has conditioned the golfing community to look at him as the ultimate champion, and when he's winning he likes that. So, when he loses, he should also get the same amount of scrutiny for that. He gets so ticked when he misses an eagle putt, sorry but I can't generate any sympathy for him. As for watching his practice rounds - not for me - I stopped watching the All Tiger Tour, which is what tv became when they would show him the whole time even when he wasn't in contention, probably 5 years ago and didn't watch any golf at all until just recently. As for Phil being a rival for Tiger - well, Phil isn't carrying around pom-poms doing cheers for Woods, he's competing against him. So, I think he would be a rival. One definition of the word is: One who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another; a competitor. Is Phil doing well this year? I would say no. Does he do well in the Majors? I would say no. But the fact remains that not all fans of golf watch only Tiger Woods. Many fans have many different favorites and as the top 4 or 5 are more prevalent on tv, it would stand to reason that they would draw a larger share of the viewer base.  


Blogger CB said...

Since you dropped Websters on us I felt obligated to reply. I was trying to be nice to man-boobs earlier but I might have to align myself with the post that was so harsh.

Why doesn't Phil get pissed when he misses eagle putts? Maybe that is the problem. Maybe that is why he can win the Bob Hope but not an Open.

Golf is more interesting when the best is playing his best and the networks, you, and even lefty know it. Check the rating along with the dictionary.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great fodder between Miranda and CB. I posted the original complaint on Hefty and completely disagree with Miranda. The networks show TW because there is a high correlation between ratings and Tiger. Get used to it.

Tiger does not have a "snotty" on course attitude. Have you ever watched MJ play basketball? Ever heard how pissed he got at his teammates (and himself) when they (he) screwed up? All-time great competitors get fired up and expect the best from themselves. Tiger acts with disappointment after he misses 35 foot triple breakers because he: (i) is highly confident and (ii) he really, really wants to win. Don't knock him for that. If that annoys you, how can you stand that ridiculous smirk on Phlab Mickelson's face after every hole?

Last question: Should Tiger write a book entitled, "Ten Magical Sundays?"  


Blogger Golf Grouch said...

I agree with the last anonymous post.

I love Tiger's competitive spirit and it is similar to Jordan's.

I think most serious golfers are fans of Mr. Woods because they understand how truly difficult it is to play golf and are amazed by his skills and accomplishments.

I know a couple people who have actually played with Tiger and they have all said that he is a very friendly and funny guy. What you see on TV during tournaments is Tiger's "game" face. Golf requires so much mental focus to be successful that many players need to enter a "zone." For instance, Nick Faldo was a completely different person on the course than off.  


Blogger CB said...

He should hold off on the book til 20, then roll out extra editions as required.

As for MJ, he punched Steve Kerr... Tiger keeps it together on the course if you ask me.  


Blogger Eric said...

Getting back on topic, I actually liked these Monday Night Golf shows. Then again, I'll watch an infomercial for some crazy new golf gadget JUST because it has to do with golf. Heck I even go to see movies I have no interest in because I hear there will be a golf scene in them.

That said, I can see how others wouldn't like it. Golf fans like to see shots being made, and there aren't many to watch with these matches.  


Anonymous EMC said...

Two majors for Lefty now. If you want to call him a Nationwide player with a great short game, you may as well call Woods a Nationwide player with a huge tee shot. In three or four more years Phil will finish his career Slam and you haters will finally have to give him credit he deserved long before his incredible back nine at Augusta last year.  


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