A few months ago I wrote a column about how people like tv shows that show life as la-la-land rather than the reality of life. I think that this constant portrayal of life as beautiful people living in beautiful homes whose problems are only dramatic misunderstandings … leads to a lot of unhappiness by the viewers who believe that they’re missing out.
Forty years ago the movie “Network” was about a tv anchorman trying to tell people that television wasn’t real – that their lives are real … not the other way around.
I feel the same way about televised golf. People believe that the PGA Tour is what golf is all about … that what they are watching is “real” golf.
I couldn’t disagree more. Tour players are playing for serious money … they are professional golfers – that’s how they are earning their living. Their courses are ridiculously difficult … and ridiculously manicured. Their attention to every shot is ridiculous. Their pace of play is ridiculous. The need for perfect silence is ridiculous. The amount of money they play for is ridiculous. Is it fun to watch? Yeah – it’s a gas … but that’s not golf … that’s a cartoon.
But, the images are so powerful that people think that’s how they should play golf. The same way that people used to think that “Leave to Beaver” was normal … that Mom (June) should come to dinner in pearls, and that Beaver losing Wally’s homework was a tragedy.
So, if you don’t swing like Rory McElroy and use the latest driver and back-up your 7 iron shots and have matching headcovers and play on a flawless course … you can’t have fun playing golf.
Probably the most fun I had playing golf was when I went to ASU and used to play Papago Park every afternoon. Papago was a great muni golf course right near the Phoenix airport. My partner in crime was Todd – who is still a golf pro in Phoenix. Todd and I had goofy homemade swings and we both had taped-up old Vagabond golf bags (Todd had gym socks as head covers) … and we usually played in flip-flop sandals. Because Papago was near the airport, it got a lot of golf obsessed businessmen ready to show off their “Tour” style golf games. These guys had the “style” but not the game. They especially loved having the big Tour bag. I know, I know … you know where this is going … we couldn’t help it … these guys always wanted to play us for money.
Watching the Tour on tv is great. But playing golf is even better. Not the uptight weird version where people aren’t playing golf as much as they’re trying to play some imaginary version of “golf”. Golf should be as much fun and as casual as a game of pick-up basketball.
Television can be a fun distraction … but that’s all it is. Playing golf is a real experience … and a lot better than television.
GM and Head Golf Professional