From The Inbox

Golf has a shot at hooking a new audience

When the PGA Tour returns in 2 months, potential viewers with perhaps little previous interest in professional golf could be intrigued by the only live sports action on TV

John Hawkins’ piece was wonderful (“The show goes on: Why the PGA Tour will be just fine, with or without fans,” April 20).

Hawkins made me wonder about the many viewers who will tune in who have barely, if ever, watched golf, and probably know so much less about the game than those of us regular viewer-player types. So, that made me wonder about what the PGA Tour, Golf Channel and others will be doing to prepare to welcome and orient these new viewers. What an opportunity to capture new fans, as Hawkins’ piece suggests. A captive audience, but not maybe for long when the NBA and other sports restart in full.

What would these new viewers need to get hooked, and do more than just tune in once or twice for the novelty of seeing sports live again?

The list of ideas is endless. I hope the powers-that-be in golf and media are considering them. A few come to mind right away for the new viewers, who would:

– enjoy more “getting to know” the player material, such as what we see in the Olympics;

– benefit from short tutorials about rules, scoring, vocabulary and history;

– have the option to click split-screen style on links that “tier” the information they want as they view, in a sort of hierarchy of needs ("For Tiger at the Masters on 16, click option 1"; "Why the 16th hole is historical to Tiger, click option 2"; "Shots to play from spot X or Y off the green, click option 3");

As Hawkins suggests, perhaps some of the greats such as Annika Sorenstam and others could be brought in to speak to the moment, whether live in person or recorded, remote, etc.

Thank you to John Hawkins for all of the great commentary and insight that he has provided.

Daniel Silver
Broomfield, Colo.

A certain cure for golf affliction
Under normal circumstances, I’d be delighted to report it’s been a long time since my last three-putt, but truth be told, I haven’t teed it up in several weeks because Massachusetts is one of 14 states under a (expletive) golf ban.

Maybe I should blame the Masters being postponed, but lately, until the “all-clear-to-golf” signal is given, I’ve been experiencing strange side effects from my self-diagnosed phobia identified as “lack of golf.”

According to the National Golf Foundation, there are about 23 million golfers in the U.S., with 7 million falling into the “avid” category, implying we are “golf nuts” and “hooked” on golf. The NGF does not have a classification called super-avid golfer, but if you’ve been enmeshed in the game for 10 or more years, you know its addictive ingredients. Some, like me, are super-duper, uber-avid golfers.

Here are my gruesome symptoms:

1. I wake up in the middle of the night ecstatic, thinking the golf ban is lifted.

2. Watching reruns on Golf Channel doesn’t get the juices flowing like it used to.

3. Scanning golf on the Internet is troubling because pro golf is shut down, thus no scoreboard.

4. Opening emails promising game improvement from online videos is a form of harassment.

5. There’s a feeling of emptiness with no live golf on weekends.

6. Reading another golf book is not cutting the mustard.

7. I truly miss Johnny Miller expounding the definition of “choke.”

8. I miss the chiding and razzing after losing a $5 Nassau three ways.

9. Fantasizing about goofy golf jokes such as “take two weeks off and then quit the game.”

10. I terribly miss using golf lingo such as sandy, deuce, chili dip, lag, press, fried egg and dormie.

With all this extra time and nothing to do, I pulled out Webster’s Dictionary and obtained my diagnosis. Apparently, I have an authentic ailment caused by a lifetime of exposure to golf instigated by pushes, pulls, yanks, snap hooks, slices, sand, water and that taboo four-letter word yips.

Affliction: “a condition of pain, suffering or distress.”

Golf: “a game played on a large outdoor course with a series of 9 or 18 holes spaced far apart, the object being to propel a small ball with the use of various clubs into each hole with as few strokes as possible.”

What’s the prescription for golf affliction? Let’s start with a stroll onto the first tee, proceeded by four hours of striking the little white ball at least 90 times while smiling and loving every precious minute of it.

Tom Gorman
Boston
(Gorman is publisher of www.newengland.golf)

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