Football folliesI had just finished playing in a golf outing Sunday afternoon at Troon North's Monument course in Scottsdale (my partner and I shot 63 in the two-man scramble, mostly due to him). We were attacking the buffet, but the big-screen TV was drawing a bigger crowd than the food. It was the fourth quarter of the Packers-Cardinals playoff game. No one even thought of putting on Golf Channel and the SBS Championship.
Yes, football rules. Especially when it's the local team. Several writers, including ESPN.com's Bob Harig, have suggested changing the format of the season-opening SBS Championship (currently for winners only) to create more buzz, or pushing back the start of the season so golf doesn't have to compete against the NFL playoffs.
I don't think that's the way to go. Why not just wave a white flag and admit that golf is a niche sport that has been riding a Tiger-induced bubble for the past dozen years? If you start dodging football in January, when snowbound golfers in the Midwest and Northeast are starved to see some green grass, when will it end? Do we cancel tour events in March because of the NCAA basketball tournament? April has baseball, June and July have the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Don't run scared from the NFL, just run hard. Lead and your hardcore fans will follow. A little creativity wouldn't hurt either. Golf in prime time two weeks in a row in Hawaii is genius. Try more of that, even if it means tape delay. How about ending a tournament on a Saturday instead of an NFL Sunday? And there's no live golf Monday through Wednesday. That's an opening for some enterprising tour. Require players to wear NFL jerseys and hire some less reverential, more entertaining talking heads. Lose the blazers. Run better tournaments, create better television, just be better. Steve Stricker finished strong last weekend in the SBS Championship, shooting
68-66 on the weekend, just like Zach Johnson did a year ago. That
finish propelled Johnson to victory the following week at the Sony. Paul Arnett in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin thinks Stricker is a good bet to win this week.
"If you enjoy those tumbling dice, pray — as the Alan Parsons Project might say — for the turn of a friendly card… and take a look at Steve Stricker at this week's Sony Open in Hawaii. … Well, Stricker is one of 144 entered. That makes is something of a long shot… He finished in a tie for 23rd here last year. Not a ringing endorsement. But if you like to put $5 on No. 23 on the roulette wheel, believe the Dallas Cowboys should be odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl or think you've developed a system to beat 21, put some dough on Stricker."
More Wales watching Most Americans don't know much about Wales, so Martin Kaufmann offers Wales for Us American Dummies, writing on Golfweek.com about the country and the excitement over the Ryder Cup: "Rarely has a country had so much riding on a simple golf tournament." He also quotes Sam Baker, a Cincinnati-based golf tour operator, on the virtues of Wales as a tourist destination: "Wales has a huge price advantage. We've never had anybody come back from Wales who felt they had a bad experience. It is comparable to the north and west of Ireland in the sense that it is rugged and undiscovered and has a very nice collection of links golf courses. . . . Is it as good as Scotland or Ireland? No, it's not. But for Americans making a second or third trip to the U.K., is it a good option? Absolutely."
(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)