Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Little More on Faldo

This post is not so much about his bashing Nike equipment on Sunday, but that he seems to be quickly developing into a Johnny Miller type figure - you either love him or you hate him.

Sal Johnson at GolfObserver lays into Faldo in his Buzz column this week about what Faldo does not do in his broadcasting:

Nick, we want to hear about the players' swings, not that the attendance is good because the parking lot is full. Nick, we want to get inside information about players, not hear how your Mom back in England is about to pour a cup of tea. Nick, we want you to tell us about the course and its special traits, not make fun of all the creatures that you could run into if you hit it off the fairway. Nick we want to get good golf commentary, not stories about deer with no eyes. Lastly, a birdie is a birdie and not a "tweeter."
Johnson even goes further and then says that Faldo isn't even on the same level as Johnny Miller.
Johnny does a lot of homework on the course and the players. He has stats at his beck and call and he doesn't try to jab us with a bunch of B.S. With Miller, we trust every word as the Bible; we don't question his analysis because we know it's spot-on. We can't say the same about Faldo. I honestly don't think he does much homework. He tries to rely on his humor to get him through the day. But in talking with a lot of people about this, lots of golf insiders and media people feel that Faldo could be overexposed and maybe isn't ready for prime time in the big seat.
I'm not going to argue on that point. Johnny Miller does a LOT of homework. It can almost be too much homework at times because he uses it in his analysis so well. It is difficult to argue with Miller's blunt analysis when he has the numbers to prove his points. Faldo is certainly more finesse.

I think Faldo can pull off finesse when he has someone to back him up - either someone in the truck or on-air with him. Basically, like Sal mentions, the CBS team. Faldo without someone to validate his comments is just spewing into the wind. Sal does not like that and I can respect that.

I would like to make a comparison, though, between Faldo and another beloved and controversial commentator. Of course, I am speaking of Charles Barkley on the NBA on TNT. I love the studio team of Ernie, Kenny, and Charles. They have great chemistry and balance out fun with serious commentary about the Association. Charles, though, is the guy who does not use a lot of statistics in his analysis. He calls things as he sees them. A lot of people love that because he is willing to say anything at anytime. Others hate that because a lot of it may be lacking specific proof.

Nick Faldo is golf's version of Charles Barkley. The only problem, potentially, is that golf is so much more of a technical sport to analyze than basketball - especially pro basketball. Faldo needs stats, technical insight, and other specifics to come across as engaged and establish credibility with the hardcore golf viewer.

Then again, for the casual fan, he may be perfect. The casual fan doesn't know that he is speaking without proof and they probably don't care. I had a conversation with a casual golf fan friend of mine recently in which he said he loved Faldo because he said what was on his mind and did not care who he offended. That is the draw of Nick Faldo. The downside is that he can do it - at times - without fact. (Interestingly enough, he had a study to use as fact in bashing Nike on Sunday.)

So it begs the question: do you take a chance on the good (witty quips) and hope to avoid the bad (having no one to play straight man for him, a la Kelly Tilghman)?

1 comment:

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