Morning Read’s Mike Purkey says that there’s a big difference between tradition and gimmicks, and these are the gimmicks that ought to go before they have a chance to remain around.
Unless you count the mulligan, which many golfers do not, a gimmick virtually never becomes a tradition. Here are five gimmicks that have persisted for so long that you might mistake them for traditions. Traditions, on the other hand, have stood the test of time, and it is now time to let them go. Please take one off the first tee.
5. TPC Scottsdale, 16th
The TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole.
The Thunderbirds, the civic organization that organizes the Waste Management Phoenix Open, have spent the last three decades attempting to persuade us that the spectacle at the par-3 16th hole is as important to the game as Amen Corner, a notion that divides golf almost as much as red vs. blue divides the country.
It all started with some wild fun for students from nearby Arizona State University, especially during the third round on Saturday. The young people sung players’ college battle songs when they reached the tee, chanted insults, and treated tee shots with a chorus of cheers for a good one and boos for missing the green, fueled by free-flowing beer and the desert sun. It poured plastic cups for a few minutes after Tiger Woods made an ace in 1997.
Then, in 1992, someone had a brilliant idea, and the first 11 skyboxes were constructed on the 16th floor. The hole has now been covered like a stadium, with 278 skyboxes and suites holding the majority of the 17,000 well-heeled visitors to the 16th. (There are only 3,700 general admission seats left.)
To rent a skybox there today, a corporate sponsor must meet these requirements.
As a result, the mood at the 16th is considerably more subdued, as the kids who generated it were generally shut out of seats in favor of the skyboxers. What started off as a fun novelty has turned into an annoyance, and it’s now just another boring corporate hospitality tent.
Many a novel thought has been wrecked by money, and the 16th is no exception. Aside than that, it’s as old as a BlackBerry. It’s time to swap it in for a newer model.
4. Bill Murray’s Act
Bill Murray, one of our generation’s greatest comedy performers, played the anti-traditional golfer at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 25 years ago. Murray stood out in bib overalls, brogans with outfits, and caps of all kinds without saying anything. He has a golf clothing line, but he doesn’t wear it to the AT&T, at least not to the AT&T.
His antics were once cutting-edge (for golf) and frequently hilarious. But he’s run out of good, if not great, material, and it’s now just plain old. Murray, who is 71 years old, appears exhausted and wants to take a break. He has, however, created a comedy monster, and it would be impossible for him to just go to the AT&T and play golf without fans — and television — anticipating six hours of 18 Saturday Night Live skits.
Murray is, by all accounts, a wonderful guy who is giving to a fault. At the AT&T, he should now play that character. If only his fans would let him.
3. Pebble’s Sunday Amateurs
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is known for many things, but one of the most well-known is that the top 25 pro-am teams after three rounds make the cut and fight for their own reward on Sunday. As a result, amateurs with varied handicaps compete alongside professionals who are vying for a trophy and a cheque (and, lest we forget, valuable FedEx Cup points).
What other sport enables amateurs to play in the fourth quarter in the middle of the competition? “That’s what makes golf so fantastic,” please don’t say. It’s why golf is so reliant on the wealthy and B-list celebs. Pebble’s A-listers have long since fled. Every player with an extra $40K wishes to make the cut and compete on Sunday. That’s a concise list.
During the last hours of merger talks, company presidents would not bring professional golfers into their board rooms to engage in negotiations. Lukas Nelson (and his father) are two of my favorite musicians. But I’m betting Lukas wouldn’t do a duet with his pro partner, Beau Hossler, if he was a 15-handicap singer and guitarist in the middle of his biggest show.
On Sunday, there’s far too much at risk for 25 amateurs to get in the way by attempting to keep out of the way. Give the prizes to the amateurs on Saturday night and let the pros get on with their jobs the next day.
2. Aloha, Kapalua
For what seems like an eternity, Hawaii has been the traditional start to the PGA Tour’s calendar year. And the television images of Maui are nothing short of magnificent. However, having the golfers compete in the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, a mediocre resort facility with a goofy finishing hole, ruins the whole thing.
The fairways are five miles wide, all par-5s are reachable in two, and four of the back nine holes are 384 yards or less. The Tour players shoot the grass off the place when there’s no wind, as Cameron Smith’s 34-under total this year attests.
However, tour players go low in a variety of locations, and it isn’t the only reason Kapalua has outlived its utility. The event attracts only a few hundred spectators each year, and the track is far too challenging for them to walk. Players and caddies are shuttled from greens to tees in multiple locations.
It’s a terrific site for the PGA Tour to entertain its top clients, but it’s not a place where tournament champions should compete. Invite select Tour players to Kapalua for a two-day pro-am for the clients, and find a different location for the Sentry Tournament of Champions where the pros won’t get scorched.
1. Sponsor’s TV time
Why do we have to put up with this Sunday afternoon nonsense week after week of agony? “What is it about this tournament that fits so perfectly with your company’s philosophy and values?” the anchor invariably asks the title sponsor’s CEO or chief marketing officer. And his or her gaze falls to their prepared written response, to which almost no one pays attention because they’ve gone to the fridge or checked their phones.
Here’s our response: We. Don’t. Give. A. Damn. During the telecast, the sponsor has acquired a lot of commercial time. We don’t need another ad that tries to pass itself off as a serious interview. Keep the CEOs out of the 18th tower and in corporate hospitality. Please just show the golf.
Read the original article on Sports Illustrated.