This time last week I was looking forward to a very rare, free weekend at home. My intentions were to put my feet up and watch a bit of sport on the telly. The rugby was on, but, alas, not Ireland versus Italy – postponed because of the coronavirus situation. Not to worry, I’d settle down to watch the European Tour golf from Qatar followed by Arnie’s tournament at Bay Hill.
First up, Qatar, which climaxed in a riveting five hole play-off between Spaniard Jorge Campillo, who won in Morocco last year, and 44-year old Scotsman David Drysdale, who was seeking his first European Tour win. Not knowing either of the protagonists I found myself rooting for Drysdale who was playing in his 498th European Tour event and still doing everything he could to ascend to the top spot on the podium. His wife Vicki was on the bag, looking calmness personified, even when Campillo holed a couple of outrageous putts to keep himself in it. Alas for the Scot it was not to be, despite near flawless play in the play-off. Sometimes if someone else’s name is on the trophy (or cheque) there’s not a thing you can do about it.My second helping of golf was watching Tyrrell Hatton win for the first time in America around an extremely tough Bay Hill golf course with a frisky breeze and greens like glass. I watched his final nine holes as, true to form, he harrumphed his way round, kicking petulantly at divots and grumbling away at himself. He doubled the 11th hole and along with many other viewers I waited for the explosion that would finish him. It never came. He ground out seven magnificent pars to squeeze home by a shot from the popular Aussie, Marc Leishman. So, all told on Sunday I watched about three hours’ worth of golf, and very enjoyable it was too. I didn’t watch any golf from Thursday to Saturday so I only saw a fraction of the overall output, which must have been up around the 40-hour mark. I’m mostly only interested and energised by the denouement of tournaments and I put that down to the sheer volume of televised golf thrown at us. Frankly we are oversaturated with golf on the box and a large proportion of it is simply boring.
I find myself tuning in to the final nine holes on a Sunday now and nothing else. I am someone who just loves this game but the increase in golf on television makes it so difficult for the broadcasters to bring anything new and fresh and I often wonder if other golf fans find themselves surfing past the golf output with their remotes on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays? Or perhaps it is just me?
On Monday of this week there came news that both the PGA and LPGA tours in the States had finalised their new broadcast deals from 2021 onwards. Rick Anderson, chief media officer for the PGA Tour said, “One of the things we are really trying to do here over the next several years is to expand the amount of content we produce.” He continued, “Think of a tournament where approximately 30,000 shots are hit. Today, with all we do, we’re still capturing just 30 percent of the shots.” When I read that my heart sank. I suspect the eventual aim is to show every shot at every tournament on some media platform or other. In fact, every shot of every competitor will be available at this week’s Players’ Championship. Ugh!
The argument is that with the ever expanding and increasing media landscape all sorts of content is required to satisfy the various platforms. My feeling is that it is people who are already fans who browse and use these various platforms. We are not capturing or engaging new or non-golfing fans. And maybe the saturated output will start to turn off lifelong fans like me. Of course, we are talking absolutely mega money here, so perhaps all really IS well with the global golf world? Hmm, I wonder. Alienate grass roots fans and fail to secure new ones and over time that won’t be good news for our sport.
On a lighter note, I’ve managed to fit in a couple of fun things myself this week. I managed a couple of rounds and a few visits to the range although not, I confess, bedecked in the shirt sleeves of the television golf world. On Wednesday I had one of my regular fours at the lovely Vale of Llangollen, amazingly unsquelchy after the endless rain we’ve suffered. More power to the green staff for producing good greens in early March.
Then yesterday I eschewed the opportunity to watch the first round of The Players’ Championship and headed instead to Dunham Forest Golf & Country Club for an evening of fun and fashion organised by and for the ladies and ably compered by their incomparable club professional, Paul Dennis. What a feast of fashion sashayed down the catwalk! All the models were members of the club and the outfits gave a welcome hint of long summer days to come.
There was a raffle after the catwalk magnificence and when I was asked to draw out a ticket I obliged by drawing out my own! I was early enough in the draw to acquire the most sought after prize of the entire evening, as seen in the picture below – a coveted, and much sought after…………….loo roll! The perfect end to a perfect evening!