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Reader presents first-ever "Dubious PGA Tour Awards"

As one who watches more golf on television than seems healthy (the danger point is watching more than you play), and one who is headed for carpel tunnel for having to hit the "Return" button (set to ESPN) to escape all the automobile and pharmaceutical commercials that appear after every two shots, I feel I've earned a license to comment on the PGA Tour's presentation on the idiot box.

The sport's increasing exploitation by commercial interests and many of its PR-challenged players may be driving more of us away from the sport than sponsors might think.

Of course we all know who the sponsors are. There's no forgetting them even for a second. In case we don't catch the giant lettering on the golf bags, the players all wear their hats like billboards. There was a time not long ago when such a thing would have been considered crass, but I guess we have to move on in our not-very-brave new world. The money players make for sporting the names and logos makes for an understandable excuse, I suppose, but what about the thousands of grown men and women who follow suit and unwittingly advertise for Titleist or Nike? It's one thing when insecure youngsters buy a popular cap, but you know something has gone awry when grownups essentially pay a company to advertise for it.

And since so much money is devoted to advertising, and since the top players of the PGA Tour derive an absurdly huge income from playing golf, shouldn't there be a special school (something like the old Hollywood studio system had, say) that better prepares players for prime time exposure?

Not that everyone can be like Phil Mickelson, an advertiser's as well as a golf fan's dream - makes birdies in bunches, doesn't fist pump in a grating way, smiles all the time and seems to be really enjoying himself - but really, some attention must be paid.

Maybe the PGA Tour could hand out awards at some kind of closing banquet each year to call attention to some areas beyond the simple numbers game.

They've already got the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average and the Player of the Year and all that, but how about other, more dubious awards? How about an award for Most Pleasant or Least Pleasant to be paired with? How about Most Likely to Explode in Rage or Wing a Club? Or Most Likely to Make You Laugh or Most Likely to start stepping in your backswing? Because the PGA Tour won't do anything that might endanger its polished, corporate-sponsored image, I guess it's up to the fans to start the ball rolling. Next year I'd like to see a real vote, a poll of thousands of fans, but for now the following will have to suffice for the first-ever Dubious PGA Tour Awards. Drum roll, please. . .

Most Annoying Pre-shot Routine: The nominees are Ben Crane, Padraig Harrington, Bernhard Langer and Jim Furyk. The award goes to Crane. His endless, laborious repeating of his nervous twitches can make even the most diehard fan groan; thousands no doubt tuned out of the Milwaukee event this year. For God sake Ben, you're a golfer, not a surgeon.

The Most Unwatchable Player Award: The short-list nominees are Ben Crane, Hale Irwin and Frank Lickliter II, and Lickliter licks them all because Irwin has a nice swing and can sometimes work up a sharp-toothed smile, and besides he's on the Senior Tour and you're supposed to respect your elders. Lickliter's wrap-around shades, yanked-down cap, hunch-backed posture and sour attitude (complete with permanently pinched lips) all combine to make it painful to even just watch him walk down the fairway. We're all selfish sinners, but some do it so much better than others, even with style. Perhaps the angry Texan is so difficult to watch because he reminds us that golf is, at heart, a selfish game. Please, Frank, learn to at least LOOK like you're enjoying yourself. You're the envy of thousands because you don't even have a real job. Lots of people are living on $25,000 or less a year. Get things in perspective.

The II on Lickliter's name also earns him a nomination in The Most Pretentious Name category, but he's saved from a second award by Davis Love III and Charles Howell III, who share top honors. This is America, IIIs. We don't care how many times the same name was used in your families. Lose the numbers and I swear to God you'll have thousands more of us cheering for you. Remember, we're mob-like. We ain't got no numbers on our names, and we didn't have no country club upbringing, so why keep smearing your privilege in our faces? And Davis, if you lose that III, I'll bet you'll never have to insist on having a heckling fan thrown out of a tournament again. I'll bet you'll even become a sentimental favorite to win The Masters. Work with us. We're not bright, but we occasionally pay attention.

Worst Announcer: ABC's Mike Tirico takes the award hands down. His milquetoast voice and constant blinding glimpses of the obvious must grate on even the most tone-deaf golf fans.

Consider this list just a start. What dubious awards would you like to see? It's time for fans to strike back and be heard for something besides mindless cheering and shouts of "Get in the Hole!" and "You da' Man!"

Richard Matthews
Las Vegas, NV

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • The good golfer who's swing is so bad it makes the average golfer feel good.

    Brian wrote on: Oct 4, 2005

    And the winner has to be.... Chris DiMarco.
    Everytime I watch this guy swing, I feel like I'm watchin a first timer. Just goes to show, you don't have to swing it like Hogan to play the game well.... but it helps if you want to win a major!!!


  • Spitting!

    Len Foss wrote on: Sep 26, 2005

    I read the article on 'Dubious PGA Awards' and was delighted to see that I am not the only one who is constantly annoyed by (some) Professional Golfers in a very public arena such as TV golf.
    We watch them on cable and we find it most disconcerting to see a close up of golfers 'Spitting' at regular intervals for no apparent reason (and the top names are some of the worst).
    They know they are being televised yet it does not seem to matter and I wonder if this would not contribute to dehydration if done enough times.
    Surely any sponsors, (Nike Titleist Callaway) included etc., must be unimpressed by the message portrayed by the sight of some one expectorating whilst obviously displaying their logo and for all the world to see!
    Also, in the recent 'President's Cup', of which I watched quite a lot, was Jack Nicklaus not breaking the rules by giving (or attempting to give) advice to players on the greens re speed or break etc.?
    The R&A Rules clearly state that penalties apply for advising a team member of conditions prior to them playing that hole. Similar I guess to passing someone on an adjacent fairway who says to you something like, "watch the next green it's fast and breaks a lot from right to left from below the hole". I believe Jack was coaching his players before they attempted a putt at different times.
    The commentators made comment about the same actions and I don't remember Gary Player walking onto a green before one of the Intl's putted. (Correct me if I am wrong on any point).
    Len Foss
    Brisbane Qld Australia