Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Growing the Game With Bad Setups

We've been talking on here about the Olympics as a venue to potentially grow the game of golf - or, at least, that is the argument posed by proponents of getting golf into the 2016 games. (If Chicago gets those games, which course would you have host? Olympia Fields?! AHHHH!)

Anyway, here is another angle on what is not growing the game - boring courses.

[Steve] Flesch, a thoughtful member of the PGA Tour's player advisory council, expressed more far-reaching concerns for a pricey leisure sport that during this economic downturn is seeing more courses close than open and the number of participants and rounds played continue to fall nationally. He didn't quite accuse this PGA Championship of killing golf, but he came close. "If we're worried about attracting people to come play, if they see how miserable we are out there, why would they go, 'I want to play that game!'?" Flesch told Golf.com's Cameron Morfit. "It's fun to watch guys make birdies. They smile. The PGA is committed to growing the game; is this how they want golf portrayed?

"The thing that bums me out is I don't know how many of our top 15, 20 guys got chased out of here this weekend. Do you think that's the leaderboard the PGA of America wants up there when they're fighting the Olympics? How are ratings going to be this weekend? People are going to look at Charlie Wi, myself — I'm not saying anybody doesn't deserve to be up there, but people are going to turn around and go, 'Well I've never heard of any of these guys, let's see what's going on with the Olympics.' The PGA has got to be careful. They're getting what they're asking for, is what I'm saying."

Golf is a player driven sport. The personalities (or lack thereof) determine the ratings because viewers want to like and identify with the players and their talents. If course setups hinder the players' ability to collectively showcase that talent, then people may not tune in to watch. In effect, the ratings for the US Opens at Shinnecock and Winged Foot were terrible - per this argument - because the setups were so bad that they could not have possibly identified the best player...just the one that survives.

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