I don’t get to see commercials when I’m working on a golf telecast, but after a few months of thumbing my remote in the off-season, I feel I’ve got myself up to speed. I’m at a stage in my career (retired) when, unlike most golfers, I’m not really looking for something that’s going to make me brilliant overnight. I just want stuff that helps me suck less.
As part of that search, I just signed an endorsement deal. While I shouldn’t let my new sponsor’s name slip, let me give a hint: I’ve been bitten by the brand.
In my quest for less suckage, I’ve been fascinated by the proliferation of quite obviously useless devices that are touted as handicap-cutting miracles, and the apparently infinite number of people who buy them — golfers with too much money and not enough sense. Does anyone else remember the warm-up baseball-bat thingy with the water in it? If you could make it burp at the top of your backswing, you were in the perfect position.
My favorite at the moment is that hinged club, which when waved at the ball will either get you to the middle of the green with a birdie putt or to the emergency room with stitches in your lid. What a concept: Swing right or die.
I’m big into infomercials. There’s one with me in it, looking like a tool-belted Turkish prison guard. I’ve been up and down through five pants sizes and 11 hair styles since that ad was made, but it’s still running on the Golf Channel every time I turn on the telly. Granted, it’s not as bad as the one in which Bobby Clampett flogs gas heaters for golf carts. Dear God, I wish I’d been in on the storyboards for that one: Let me see, let’s take some propane, put it in a moving vehicle with Clampett, give him a box of matches, and dive for cover. Cart rental: $32. Golf balls: $28. Greens fee: $85. Watching Bobby Clampett dive headfirst into a frozen lake because his hair is on fire: f—ing priceless. Now that’s a commercial.
The other one I love is for the Perfect Club. Peter Kessler who I believe is a 6-handicap vampire is perfect for the job. I once saw a shot of him on Golf Talk Dead, walking past a mirror with Phil Mickelson. For an instant Phil was right-handed and Kessler was gone too weird.
So I’m thinking that if anyone out there wants to market a knockoff of the Perfect Club, give me a shout. I may not be perfect, but I think I’m quite good. So we’d call it the Quite Good Club, and it could be used from almost anywhere to do nearly everything. The Quite Good Club might not get you completely out of the bunker, but it’d certainly get you right up there under the lip. The concept might need work, but I think I’m on to something.
I’ve always fancied myself something of an ad exec. You know the type — ponytail and bowling shirt, brainstorming around the cube farm with a half-eaten cigar and a crappy attitude. I would never have allowed Gary McCord to admit he plays with a soft Noodle. And when Charles Howell III and Scott McCarron were hitting buttons in that elevator, why didn’t David Duval walk in last and punch 59? Someone answer me that! And then this: When Johnny Miller said that great shots were “better against Jack,” why the hell didn’t someone punch him? We need more gratuitous punching in golf advertising, and more reality, too. If I see a fat, sign-carrying kid in shorts sneaking around the locker room, sniffing articles of clothing, I’d like to see Ernie Els and Jesper Parnevik ganging up and forcing his cheerful, chubby self into a locker.
I also think Frank the headcover’s eyes should pop out just a little now that Tiger’s inserting a driver with a bigger head into him. That would have to sting a bit, no?
My favorite golf commercials are those with John Cleese, who is clearly over the Far Hills and far, far away. I couldn’t watch that man open his eyes in the morning without bursting out laughing. But for sheer selling power, no one can compete with Tiger who, incidentally, learned how to act from McCord and me. You read it here first: The kid learned it all from us, on our Late Night Show, before he got famous and started buying watches with his Amex and seeing dead people driving Buicks.