Monday, December 18, 2006

The Year in Review – Part One - Professional Golf

This week will be my year in review beginning with my feelings towards the current state of professional golf.

I watched a grand total of three tournaments this year and none from start to finish. I used to watch around 20 tournaments a year but have grown to hate the professional game. “Bomb and gouge” has lead to “dull and unwatchable” for me. I miss the style of professional golf that got me interested in the game where players with skill had as much chance as players with power. I miss the banter I began with from with players like Chi Chi, Jake and the Merry Mex, now each player seems to spend as much time with a media relations expert as they do with a swing teacher. When I saw last weeks article on Jim Furyk in the Wall Street Journal talking about him as a small corporation – I knew why and where the game had changed – and why I no longer watched.

This isn’t the first time a profession sport has lost me – professional tennis was the first one I remember. I was a huge tennis fan as a teenager. I rooted against Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors but loved watching them play. I loved the antics and game of John McEnroe trying to overcome the incredible skill and dominance of Bjorn Borg. The game was full of strategy, counterpunching and even the strength of a big serve was not enough to beat “the complete player”. Then the game changed – the larger racket and tennis academy created a game dominated by the serve – I watched for a while before giving up. I lost interest with that style of game and the new players like Lendl that lacked the personality to carry the game forward.

Hockey has been a lifetime passion for me and watching it was another of my favorite pastimes. Hockey is another game that I’m only just trying to return to after 5 years of refusing to watch. To give you perspective of how into watching hockey I was, I participated in a rotisserie league and hockey pools for 20 years before giving up watching altogether. I gave up on the game when coaching - and the neutral zone trap in particular - removed the need for skill from the game. As the game got slower and defense ruled the thinking of everyone involved – the general manager made it worse by only drafting the biggest and strongest players ignoring smaller players with superior skill. “Dump and chase” removed the need for skating, stick-handling and passing. They finally fixed the game in order to bring back the fans after the ridiculous strike last year. Now we talk about Ovechkin and Crosby rather than the Left wing lock.

This year I stopped following the PGA tour. I don’t care for any of the players, I hate the present version of the game, and now even the venues are awful. The rise of the tournament player courses and the use of horrible layouts for majors have been the final nail in the coffin. Courses such as Valhalla, Hazeltine, Atlanta Athletic Club, The K Club, Medinah, just to name a few only feed into the worst aspects that professional golf has to offer. Not to mention they have all been selected for financial reasons rather than quality venues. Even Augusta is not quite as interesting down the stretch as it once was. I’m waiting for the Tour Players Course in LA so that I can finally stop watching completely.


Anonymous said...

Ian great rant. The best golf from a spectators point of view was in my opinion, the US open (the last hole only) and by far the best was the Kraft Nabisco. I've watched more ladies golf than men's this year.

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Robert Thompson said...

You came back from holiday all grumpy and stuff.

Chris said...

I agree with you Ian. The pro tour's not my cup of tea either.

Jeff said...

Nice comparison to tennis and hockey. It seems like pro sport in general is having the life and characters sucked out of it - except basketball - that's still the wild west, just ask Isiah Thomas.

Brian said...

I've turned away team pro sports because, with all the trades and free agents, I began to feel as if I was cheering for the laundry. I think Johnny Damon moving to the Yankees was the final straw.

But golf (and possibly tennis, boxing and maybe even bowling) will always keep me watching.