Yes, these guys are good. As if we need a reminder
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“What is it about the Ryder Cup,” a noted Irish golf writer once wondered, “that gets the sweatered classes into such a clatter?”
Dude had a point. Except, it’s not just the Ryder Cup, and it’s not just the sweatered classes. The clatter you hear is professional golf as a whole.
Earlier this month the Masters came to the tube. Not usually one to rearrange a weekend in favor of hushed tones and green clothes, I didn’t this time, either. But sure enough, as the tournament walked on I ended up tuning in.
I know some folks take pro golf very seriously. It is nothing personal against them when I say that I don’t understand how.
It all starts when Jim Nantz, CBS Sports’ top golf announcer (and one of the top three play-by-play men in broadcasting), greets the viewers with a soothing, cooing, nap-time whisper. “Welcome, friends,” he says, as if to usher you in the door for his dinner party.
Soon enough, his partner Lanny Wadkins takes over. He calls people “solid ball strikers” and says things like, “Now is a good time to go flag hunting.”
It’s witty stuff, no debating that. Almost entertaining even. But there are too many little details to overcome. Details that make it impossible not to feel like you’re witness to a cute, cuddly family picnic ” not a celebrated professional sporting event.
For starters, have you ever noticed that every fan in the gallery (golf, not art) cheers for every player in the field? I’ve never understood this. Is it because, like removing your shoes in another’s home, it would be impolite not to? Are we worried about hurting a rich person’s feelings?
Never fails. Whenever a player sinks a critical shot late in a tournament, the crowd surrounding him erupts. Doesn’t matter who it is. The pasty hands shoot toward the sky all at once, leaving their folding chairs on the ground, and the trained voices roar in approval ” just like they’ll do for the next group when its star-of-the-moment sinks his 4-foot putt.
Don’t even get me started on the first names: Sergio. Phil. Tiger. Vijay.
I’m sorry, but do I know you?
When we watch an NFL or NBA or NHL game, we’re often treated to quick-hitting highlight clips with some cool, hip song in the background. When we watch professional golf, we get classical music. Ah, the majesty.
“These guys are good,” the PGA slogan goes, and boy does the world celebrate it. There is no way to know for sure, but pro golfers must rank at the top of the list when it comes to “How did he end up with her?” conversations.
Take Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain. Have you seen this guy? He doesn’t exactly scream “world-class athlete” with his drooping belly, perpetual bedhead and spindly little arms. He is a redhaired Rodney Dangerfield on the PGA Tour.
But Miguel Angel Jimenez can play golf with the best in the world. And for that reason, he’s on TV and you’re not.
There is a rich reward for being great at golf. PGA tournament winners rarely take home less than $1 million nowadays, for four days of work. That’s bubble gum money for the volatile Tiger Woods, who could probably buy Greenland if he wanted to.
Woods curses and temper tantrums his way around the course, demanding unconditional silence from folks who have paid top dollar (on their scale) to see him do so. You almost wonder if you’d get a dirty look from Woods if you sneezed in your living room while he was lining up a putt.
It seems, however, that Woods could not care less. And why should he?
He is king of the professional golfing world. He is an object of the clatter.
Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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