Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Time for another year of PGA Tour Confidential. Before we discuss important matters such as where's Waldo (my new code name for Tiger) and the SBS let's look at the golfing star turn of the young year. Charles Barkley spoofed himself and "The Haney Project" when he hosted "Saturday Night Live." That sketch fell a little flat after a promising intro, but Barkley did pretty well as host, especially as a clueless contestant in a movie-quote game show.
I also liked the description of Barkley's swing looking like that of a man who has a heart attack in the middle of his swing but then recovers to hit the ball. Remember the "Haney Project" episodes where Sir Charles was sweating and supposedly working out? He looked bigger than ever on SNL. Guess he didn't stick with those workouts. Your thoughts on his performance, waist line and golf swing?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Personally, I'm tired of golf being the butt of every joke, or some kind of political liability. On Tuesday the U.S. Solheim Cup team is going to the White House to meet the President, and I'll be happy to have all those smiling, telegenic, vibrant young women give the game a better image...at least for a day.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Does this mean we are not supposed to comment on the Charles Barkley-Tiger Woods (Waldo) connection and the fact that Sir Charles tried to call him but found that Waldo has a new cell number? I think not commenting is a good idea, as I welcome the opportunity to talk about Barkley's so-called swing and take a little Waldo break.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: The real Barkley swing is funnier than the SNL skit.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: Funny thing is, when the Haney Project ended it was supposed to be a knock on Haney that he couldn't fix Chuck. Now H.H. wishes that was his biggest problem.
Shipnuck: Yeah, it's quaint to remember that the most pressing issue surrounding Tiger used to be whether he should seek out another swing coach.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Honestly, I made a point to avoid watching Barkley's show on the Golf Channel. We all know his swing is comically bad, and that he's fat. So he worked with Tiger Woods's coach for a while? He's still terrible. I don't get the appeal.
Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: You mean he's still "turrible."
Van Sickle: Best line in the SNL Haney Project spoof was the intro in which the co-host acknowledged that any viewers out there were probably watching Golf Channel by accident "and for the last time, but thank you." As for the real show, if nothing else, Barkley and Haney showed what a mental game golf is. Barkley could hit some 300-yard drives on the range, but as soon as he got on the course he was back to his heart-attack swing. He has full-swing yips.
But let's pursue Alan's point. Thanks to Tiger and Stanford Financial and the recession, among other things, how bad is golf's image problem?
Gorant: It feels to me like Tiger has taken the biggest hit. Golf has been smeared a bit, but I think much more of the shots hit Woods.
Shipnuck: President Obama could be such an important popularizing figure, but instead he has to apologize for loving the game. It's ridiculous. And don't forget all the Capitol Hill nonsense, when sponsoring a tournament was equated to one big boondoggle. I still think the stigma remains.
Bamberger: I think the image problem golf has is rooted more in the basic fact that it's a slow, methodical game that requires outsized devotion and that is foreign to the prevailing culture now. Tiger's straying is about Tiger, not about golf.
Friedman: The New Republic and The New York Times have taken Obama to task for playing too much golf. It's not only bad symbolically, but keeps him out of the office! It's knee-jerk thinking like that that gives us liberals a bad name!
Van Sickle: Enough of Sir Charles. What's the status of Tiger Woods? He has completely dropped out of sight, yet he was still the talk of the week, even after the SBS Championship got underway. Can we get over him and get on with the season?
Shipnuck: Here at Kapalua, Tiger loomed large in his absence. The players are weirded-out not knowing where he is, when he's coming back, or if he'll be the same when he does. Tiger's return, or lack thereof, will go a long way toward defining the season. Until he's back we're all going to continue obsessing about him.
Herre: I can see why the other players find TW's absence unsettling it's weird being in the dark and not knowing. Mark Rolfing said on Golf Channel that everything will quickly return to normal when TW returns. I don't think so.
Friedman: Yes, it's a be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation. His first tournament back will be a zoo.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Tiger could have taken some notes from Sir Charles about not taking himself so seriously. Charles is having fun. A less uptight Tiger might relish the opportunity to host SNL.
Van Sickle: That could be a smart option once his marriage situation is settled. Not that Tiger would ever consider it.