From The Inbox

Blame Augusta National for decline of golf commentary

Reader contends that what the Masters wants, it gets, resulting in a chilling effect on TV golf broadcasts across rest of PGA Tour

I agree with the majority of Mike Purkey’s points on the state of golf commentary, but let's put the blame squarely where it belongs: in the big white house at the end of Magnolia Lane (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). This false purification of the game has been a staple every April since I was knee high to a sand wedge and since Mr. Obsequious (Jim Nantz) first occupied the booth at 18.

If the Masters can demand the “good news only” approach, with no bikini-waxed greens there, why not the Players? And if the Players, then why not the Heritage? And, of course, if the Heritage, then why not even the John Deere Classic?

Golf is a game, but every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m., it is treated like a religion where it seems that pointing out a problem with the greens is blasphemy or suggesting that something be done to address a popular player's tendency for slow play demands excommunication.

It’s hard to return the ills to Pandora's box; but just as athletes study game film, maybe the announcing crews could show up on Monday and spend the next 24 hours watching Gary McCord, Pat Summerall, the old David Feherty, Peter Alliss and Ben Wright. It might occasion a return to the Golden Age of Commentating. Who knows? Maybe even Ian Baker-Finch will cast a critical eye at some point in the second week of April.

Tom May
Lewisville, Texas

Modern technology, caddie insight improve TV commentary
The criticism of golf telecasts certainly has merit, but on the other hand, I’ve marveled at the new visuals, graphics, drone cameras, and ball-flight electronics (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). Add insightful on-course analysis from former caddies Jim “Bones” Mackay, and now John Wood on NBC, and this viewer has been entertained. The drone-camera angles alone have added depth to the venues, removing the flatness we’ve seen forever.

What hard-hitting journalism is expected for golf? Rules controversies? Covered. Players’ personal foibles? Covered. If there’s more digging to be done, it normally would come from print or web journalists rather than host/anchors such as Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, Dan Hicks or Paul Azinger, who do address headline events to my satisfaction.

CBS has plenty of stale, no doubt, but the network still has got the action and plot lines well-covered, plus great visual aids in the most difficult sport to televise, with perhaps a dozen consequential balls in play at once. This recent drama-less Masters afforded more-than-normal time for banal chat, so the knives are out. Even Verne Lundquist was reduced to little more than a dramatic reading of player names. “Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele … to 15.”

CBS’ syrup and sound-alike international voices with little original or unique insight are easy enough to ignore. The missus uses it instead of sleep inducers. Peter Kostis, Gary McCord, David Feherty along with Nantz’s buddy Tony Romo in the booth would be a delight, but my wishes aside, I’m still watching and enjoying.

Gary Stauffenberg
Phoenix

Plato would see through today’s PGA Tour
Absolute gem of a column authored by the unfiltered Mike Purkey (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22), one of Morning Read's finest contributors.

Who would have thought that CBS and NBC golf telecasts would evolve into chummy “Cheers”-like episodes, where everyone knows your first name? Kudos to Purkey for stating the obvious: that the two major networks and Golf Channel are an extension of the public-relations department of the PGA Tour.  

A few years ago, I vividly remember listening to Peter Jacobsen make the call of a pro in contention hitting two balls into the water fronting the green on a par 3. Both shots were chunky, but to Jacobsen, who's never witnessed a bad shot from a touring pro, two wind gusts suddenly cropped up in the backswing. Does Jacobsen believe TV golf audiences are naive or stupid?

Where is Johnny Miller when you need him? I miss the inimitable Miller, because he was the only golf commentator to apply correctly the word “choke” in the appropriate situation, especially when it's visually happening live on the TV screen.

As Purkey points out, golf journalism continues to shrink and quality has eroded. Do you think it was a coincidence that when Hank Haney was fired by SiriusXM Radio in June 2019 after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called the SiriusXM radio president to complain about content on Haney’s golf talk radio show?

Clearly, the PGA Tour is a monopoly that banishes or punishes its critics. Now, the Tour is offering its premier players $40 million in bonus money to engage with fans and promote its brand, which is really a last-ditch effort at surviving after the imminent retirement of Tiger Woods.

Perhaps the words of Greek philosopher Plato apply to today's PGA Tour hierarchy when he said, “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”

Tom Gorman
Boston
(Gorman is publisher of NewEngland.Golf.)

‘From bad to worse’ at CBS
I totally concur with Mike Purkey’s thoughts about TV commentators (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22).

Moreover, it is overly tiring when they repeatedly bring up their fellow commentators’ past accomplishments. Muting becomes a popular option.

Perhaps someone will develop a tournament real-time audio app with minimal but informative commentary in un-accented English.

It's just going from bad to worse with the CBS old-chums club.

Give me David Feherty, Roger Maltbie, Dottie Pepper and Jim “Bones” Mackay and avoid the incessant CBS babblers.

Bob Cushing 
Carmel, Calif.

Give Barkley a shot at golf analysis
My suggestion is to include Charles Barkley (“TV networks’ lovefest with PGA Tour cheats viewers,” April 22). He’s clearly an avid golfer and fan.

As a golfer, Barkley has a swing that tells you all you have to know about his expertise. However, if you ever watched him doing basketball analysis, he is very candid about the players. Therefore, I think he’d be a good fit for golf broadcasts.

I don’t always agree with the many things he has said, but his objectivity is refreshing.

Jim Kowski
Kenner, La. 

What’s normal according to Norm isn’t the norm
I am very disappointed with the “foreign accent” attitude of reader Norm Amyot of Melbourne, Fla. (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 23).

Does that mean that any announcer from the Southern states, Texas, New Jersey, New England or Canada, with their regional accents, also would be foreign to Amyot?

Maybe the networks can broadcast only in Melbourne, Fla.-speak. I would suggest that Amyot go and visit some of the wonderful places in the world where the accents he abhors come from.

His eyes and mind might be opened.

Peter Torry
Toronto 

Canadian has just ‘aboot’ had it, y’all
I can't agree more with reader Charlie Jurgonis in his thoughts on LPGA purses (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 23). The game played by the women is so much more in tune with the average male golfer.

For all the millions spent on high-tech drivers, the facts continue to show that the average performance level has not improved. We are deeper into the rough and woods, but our scores are not better. The LPGA game is more like how we all play, and because of that, far more interesting to watch. I can relate far more to that 7-iron that flared a little right and didn't get the 160 I dreamed it would. I cannot relate to 300-yard drives and 160-yard pitching wedges. That Brooke Henderson who won this week's LPGA tournament but gets $225,000 compared with the winners of the men's team event getting $1 million each is obscene.

On broadcasters’ accents, I offer this: Would you rather that your commentators offer accurate analysis, regardless of their accent, or is a gushing pro American accent more to your taste? I prefer articulate discussion and worry not about what accent the speaker has. I like Dottie Pepper big-time, and she has a minimal accent. I also like Curtis Strange, and he has a notable accent. Equally, I like David Feherty and the Immelman brothers, Mark and Trevor, because they can give precise and experience-based reporting. 

As a Canadian who has spent his long life listening and reading the eh and aboot references to Americans’ perceived view of our accents, I want you all to know that y’all, charming as it is, quite simply is not a word.

Let the outrage commence.

Baird Heide
Bradford, Ontario 

Use some of that extra loot to boost fields at smaller events
The PGA Tour’s proposal for the Player Impact Program is a terrible idea (“Is PGA Tour’s popularity bonus a good idea?” April 23). It rewards popularity, not good golf, and not even participation.

One of the current challenges is getting top-ranked players to compete in smaller tournaments. So, if the PGA Tour has $40 million just lying around, looking for a purpose, I suggest using it to pay top-10 players to play these smaller events. 

It would help smaller tournaments improve their fields, and do more to grow the game.

Ken Horn
San Antonio

Golf stars' agents likely are scheming for pieces of new pie
The piece about the PGA Tour’s $40 million set-for-life (and beyond) pool failed to mention the bigger money machine: endorsements (“Is PGA Tour popularity bonus a good idea?” April 23).

I easily can imagine agents for the likely top-mentioned stars plotting their endorsement strategies now.

Ken Olshansky
Wellington, Fla.

How far is too far in effort to attract attention?
Due respect to John Hawkins of "Hawk & Purk" for taking the glass-half-full position on the PGA Tour's popularity contest – a noble effort – but I can't help thinking he drew the short straw (“Is PGA Tour popularity bonus a good idea?” April 23).

Speaking of the popularity contest:  Will the players' publicists get a percentage of the winnings, like caddies? 

Will there be a leaderboard?  

What if a player tries to grab some bonus television and social-media exposure by wearing a Turd Ferguson hat?  

Jim Westerman
Hanover Park, Ill.

Stop the nonsense
People still are having trouble figuring out the FedEx Cup points, and now popularity metrics? (“Is PGA Tour popularity bonus a good idea?” April 23).

Enough of this nonsense.

Larry Ashe
Chicago

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