Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: McDowell's swing, TV ratings, kissing up to Tiger and more
Everyone talks about how Graeme McDowell's swing should lead to inconsistency, but somehow it doesn't. Do you foresee him having some swing problems in the next 2-3 years and needing a Tiger/Paddy swing change? Eric Sedransk Jersey City, NJ I love all the finger-wagging about McDowell's action. No, it's not textbook, but it works. It's the swing he grew up with; he owns it. Many, many great players had idiosyncratic swings -- Nicklaus, Palmer and Trevino at the top of the list. Jim Furyk may wind up in the Hall of Fame with his homely loops. Tiger and Paddy are frittering away precious years in their prime toiling through massive swing changes. Maybe it will lead to better results in the future, maybe it won't. It's a huge gamble. So I sincerely hope McDowell doesn't change a thing. Why can't the Tour move the start of the season back three weeks or start somewhere other than the West Coast? The only bad weather Southern California gets all year comes in January, and last year showed that Phoenix is delightful three weeks later. It doesn't seem that hard to push the Farmers, Northern Trust and Waste Management events into mid-February. The weather would be perfect every year, and fans could plan ahead to attend. It doesn't hurt Phoenix much attendance-wise but the mornings are rough. Danny McCann I've long thought it would make sense to start the year in Florida, then go West in mid-February. It upends the traditional geographic run-up to Augusta, but who cares? It's not like these guys are caravanning in station wagons anymore. In this scenario the Hawaii swing might be a casualty. I love Kapalua and it makes great TV but with so many top players skipping the T of C it might be time to bring it back to the mainland to ensure more starpower for the season opener. Alan, any chance we can get a moratorium on your colleagues on Confidential referencing TV ratings? TV ratings are NOT a measure of the success of a golf tournament. Farmers was a great tournament with good shotmaking and SI's writers are referencing TV ratings as the gauge. You guys are SPORTSwriters. Cover the sport--leave TV ratings to TV guys. Dave Kailer This is a valid point. Golf always has been and always will be a niche sport. Tiger's success at the turn of the century seduced the golf world into believing they could become a big-time sport but there simply isn't the broad fan base. Which is fine. Those of us who love the game do so passionately. Bigger isn't always better. TV ratings are an interesting point of comparison but not that relevant. Golf's audience is always going to be about the same size. The January spike in ratings probably can be explained by the fact two-thirds of the country is stuck indoors due to heavy snow and an outdoor sport played in the sunshine offers a little vicarious relief. But since the Tour is in the middle of negotiating a new TV deal expect the emphasis on ratings to continue. The size of the next TV contract will have a big impact on the professional game, affecting purse sizes and the composition of the schedule. Big ratings is a helpful bargaining chip for the Tour. I seem to remember reading in this column last week that just about every one of you were saying that if Tiger didn't win, he'd certainly be right up there. What happened? The real question is why do all of you fawn over that guy like he's a beauty queen? It's pathetic. Are you guys still sucking up to him in hopes that he'll give an exclusive interview? John The column in question was Tour Confidential, but point taken. The problem with prognosticating Tiger is that these are unprecedented times. What do they say on financial statements? Past results do not guarantee future performance? We're judging Tiger on how he performed years ago but now his swing and life are in upheaval, his body and psyche have been scarred, his aura and confidence have been diminished, the competition has become better and more emboldened. In the old days, if you gave Tiger seven weeks to rest and prepare and stuck him on Torrey Pines, it was pretty much a sure thing he'd play great, and probably win. But these aren't the old days. The golf media has been slow to accept this.
John's assertion that any of us are mincing words in hopes of getting some kind of special access to Tiger is ludicrous. Pre-scandal it was almost impossible to get 1-on-1 time with Woods. A stolen moment on the range or in the locker room was about it. Now there's even more of a bunker mentality. Woods and his people have become obsessed with micro-managing the media, from the boycotted first TV confessional to the time limits and prohibitions on certain questions in the subsequent interviews to his more recent tightly-controlled first-person “essays” in Newsweek and ESPN The Mag. All of us gave up on getting any meaningful time with Tiger a long time ago. What is or isn't said in Tour Confidential isn't gonna make a bit of difference. Follow Alan Shipnuck on Twitter (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)