Ranking Golf-Related SportsCenter Commercials

March 17, 2016

A new SportsCenter ad featuring Jordan Spieth debuted this week amid a media whirlwind for the young, two-time major winner. 

The latest ad, in which Spieth discusses utensil choices at the ESPN cafeteria with his caddie Michael Greller, follows in a long line of golf-related ads on the network. 

Noticeably absent from this list: Tiger Woods. Yes, he has an ad. No, it’s not very clever. He draws big galleries. Cool.

Here are the network’s five best golf spots, ranked:  

5.) Rickie Fowler really likes orange 

This one is all about execution. The premise is Fowler wears a lot of bright colors, so let’s make it a joke. John Anderson catches Fowler putting orange juice in his coffee, implying maybe Rickie has some form of colorblindness, hence all the wacky outfits. It’s fine. But Anderson sells it and the thought of anyone putting orange juice in his coffee is enough to make this ad stick with you. 

It’s also a win because Fowler decided to cut his hair. He looks like the sixth member of One Direction went shopping with Rodney Dangerfield’s character from Caddyshack

4.) Jordan Spieth’s utensil decision 

Spieth gets credit for his polish, but at 22, how self-aware is he? Apparently, he knows his reputation for being persnickety on the course and for his long conversations about club, shot and execution with his caddie. This is the same guy who, after his rounds, describes the work “we” did, as if he and his caddie were playing their own private best ball. 

In this spot, Spieth is enjoying some mac and cheese (first of all, great choice) but can’t decide between the spoon and fork (fork is always the call, by the way). He vacillates, then decides on the spoon, a bold choice. 

3.) Arnold Palmer makes an Arnold Palmer 

This ad is a play on a conversation you’ve undoubtedly had (and Grantland did a short about), when Arnold Palmer wants an Arnold Palmer, does he call it one? What would it be like to have Arnie offer you a drink that bears his name? Or watch him make one? 

You can make the case this should be ranked higher, because Scott Van Pelt nails the hammer line about how cool it is to watch Palmer get the lemonade-to-iced-tea ratio just right. But ultimately the top three are all so good, we’re just splitting hairs. This is not the last time we hear from SVP, either. 

2.) Bubba Watson’s tree problem 

This is one of those commercials where the context is key. ESPN was promoting the Masters a year after Bubba hit that incredible shot from the trees on Augusta’s 10th hole. In the spot, the Stanford tree mascot is a stand-in, and Bubba and his caddie discuss how they might navigate the tree. As Kevin Nagandhi manuevers past the tree, Watson and his caddie look at him in awe the same way we do when we watch Bubba pull off one of his gravity-defying shots. 

That this ad isn’t No. 1 is more a testament to how much we like the top ad, not because of any flaws in this one.  

1.) Phil Mickelson tutors Scott Van Pelt on his on-air technique 

This has it all: the most beloved golfer in the sport, the most popular SportsCenter anchor, and the kind of self-depricating, self-awareness of a game where everyone offers advice. But ultimately it seems to come down to the truism: be yourself. Apparently, TV is the same way. 

Truly the best part of this is how hard Lefty sells it. Like a flop shot with one of his 34 wedges, he’s fully committed and it pays off. 

And Van Pelt is there, going on the journey with Mickelson. The performances are perfect, the concept is cheeky, but original, and the execution is on point — but it could have gone terribly wrong if it hadn’t been planned and completed in a precise way. 

In other words, it’s like 90% of the things Mickelson already does on the golf course.