From The Inbox

It’s a real turn-off

Hypersensitive PGA Tour muzzles networks, resulting in coverage that reader says violates broadcasting’s greatest sin: It's boring

Full marks to Mike Purkey for his double-barrel blast at the inanity of golf commentary on television (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). Having spent much of my life working in the broadcast sports media, I share his disdain with the industry's inability – or unwillingness – to take the steps to make golf broadcasts palatable.

Purkey rightly points out almost all of the reasons for this: the hypersensitivity of the closed-shop PGA Tour to criticism; the vast amount of money paid by the networks to make sure they have the precious live-sports programming required to be relevant; and the chumminess required of the former players hired as announcers.

Still, golf coverage could be a lot better if the industry would just recall the words of the late Howard K. Smith, the ABC-TV news anchor and World War II correspondent. “The greatest sin in broadcasting,” Smith said, “is to be boring.”

And televised golf coverage is exactly that.  

Let's hope in the future that golf coverage of one of the networks is handed over to a television producer from auto racing. It's a sport that employs people who talk incessantly about the minute details of the internal-combustion engine, tire composition, wing adjustments and virtually every other item or term that can be used in a sentence with “race car.” And they do so, I suspect, without worrying whether or not Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch is going to consider them friends afterward.

My interest in cars is such that I barely can operate the Bluetooth system in my cookie-cutter sedan, but I find myself looking in on racing coverage on television just to hear what's being said.  

When was the last time any of us “patrons” had that thought about a golf telecast?

Tom Cleary
Grand Rapids, Mich.
(Cleary, a former anchor at the ABC-TV affiliate in Grand Rapids and producer of the “All About Golf” radio show that was syndicated in the Midwest, is the play-by-play announcer for the Grand Valley Sports Network, which covers varsity sports for Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.)

Too much ‘horse hockey’ and not enough Johnny Miller
Mike Purkey’s article was deeply informative and well-timed (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22).

These days, I frequently roll my eyes and call “horse hockey” as media interviews and commentary unfold during telecasts.

As to the endless diatribe between Stewart Cink and his caddie/son Reagan at the recent RBC Heritage, it was cute for a while, but eating too much ice cream can be toxic, too. I kept wondering, What would Jim “Bones” Mackay think of this? My guess is he’d say it was fairytale-like and that the fawning over it was insulting and dismissive to professional caddies.

I wonder too whether media moved away from playing softball with the PGA Tour and toward hard-hitting, accurate reporting of it, would it be more compelling to watch? I’ll answer this way: I miss Johnny Miller more than ever. 

Matt Sughrue
Arlington, Va.

Purkey got it right
Mike Purkey hit the right note on PGA Tour broadcasts (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). Though I'm a frequent viewer, I can say categorically that the foreign accents of most announce teams drive me nuts ... to the point I'm regularly driven to the mute button.

While all are pretty bad, but Ian Baker-Finch and David Feherty are the absolute worst.

Bring back Gary McCord and his hint of humor. Let Dottie Pepper say her piece, and cut Brandel Chamblee loose with his cryptic-but-accurate comments.

I'm a fan of commissioner Jay Monahan, but the Tour has to realize that letting the players take so much time to play a shot and take more than four hours to play a round as a twosome does not “grow the game” when an average foursome is criticized for taking roughly the same time for a normal round.

Norm Amyot
Melbourne, Fla.

They oughta be ashamed
Spot-on, Mike Purkey (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). Televised golf has become unwatchable.

Our sons and their wives visit every Sunday, and we usually watch golf. However, everyone has become aware of how patronizing it has become. Syrupy, sentimental … basically moronic in its superficial narrative.

Everyone involved should be embarrassed and ashamed.

Tom Abts
Excelsior, Minn.
(Abts is the general manager and head golf professional at Deer Run Golf Club in Victoria, Minn.)

Searching for another angle on golf telecasts
On all golf tournament telecasts, I now record the ones I want to watch. No more spending hours watching a PGA Tour telecast and all of the boring drama. I watch only what I want to watch (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22).

When viewing the recorded PGA Tour event, I zip through the talking heads, commercials and slow play and watch only the golf shots.

I even zip through the Amanda Balionis segments now.

I would like to see a camera, mounted directly above the players on the tee box, looking straight down on their golf swings – on driver swings and iron shots on the par 3s. Great, different, educational perspective on good fundamentals in a golf swing. Then someone could analyze the golf swing from this perspective. Golf TV producers, it’s something to consider.

I really miss Peter Kostis' swing analysis.   

Chuck Ludwig
Royal Palm Beach, Fla.

Peter Alliss and Henry Longhurst would be speechless
It was so great to read Mike Purkey’s informative and right-on article about the increasingly sad direction that is being taken in televised golf commentary (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22).

The constant syrupy-sweet, un-informative rah-rah talk that makes up 90 percent of golf commentary is not what golf fans want or need, and in spite of what the PGA Tour might think, it does nothing to raise viewer interest or ratings.

David Feherty clearly should be in the booth, wherein some clever, insightful, and entertaining conversation finally could be enjoyed on a regular basis. A greater presence of talents such as Dottie Pepper and Judy Rankin (who now seems to be exclusively attached to the LPGA, which has some similar “sweeter-than-molasses” issues) as men’s golf analysts certainly would be appreciated, but I would hesitate to be too critical of Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger, who still are willing to provide some criticism and actual information, as opposed to boot-lickers such as Ian “always-wrong, nothing-useful-to-provide” Baker-Finch, Tom Byrum, and their unnecessary ilk.

I was about to ask, Where are Peter Alliss and Henry Longhurst when you need them? but they probably could not even get a job, nor would they be interested in taking one, in today’s climate.

Chris Mason
Clayton, Calif.

All together now, golf fans: 'Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya …'
Mike Purkey makes some salient points in his column (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22).

The most recent and striking example of the lack of objectivity and critical assessment among network golf analysts was clearly demonstrated after the disclosure of the PGA Tour’s new bonus program (“PGA Tour launches $40 million popularity contest, report says,” April 21). I have yet to hear one analyst voice an oppositional viewpoint.

Ask any successful person in a leadership position about the pitfalls of being surrounded by “yes” people, all singing Kumbaya!

Jim Andreottola
Topsfield, Mass.

That’s probably not what PGA Tour had in mind
The PGA Tour has implemented several rules and requirements over the years to induce greater player participation at Tour events. The Player Impact Program has to be the most ill-conceived proposal yet (“PGA Tour launches $40 million popularity contest, report says,” April 21).

A Google search or mention on social media may move the needle but not necessarily in a positive way. After the Farmers Insurance Open, the player at the top of this list would have been Patrick Reed. Expanding this “popularity” concept beyond golf or even sports would result in a list with names such as Adolf Hitler, John Wayne Gacy and Osama bin Laden.

Oops! 

Ken Jacobsen
Prospect Heights, Ill.

The latest from the Fat Chance Department
Wouldn’t it be great if the PGA Tour took half of that $40 million and used it to help subsidize LPGA purses?

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

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