Chambers Music out of tune

Not much point in adding any comments on the outcome of what had to be the most riveting finish to a golf tournament that I’ve watched in nearly 60 years of viewing. But while I’ll add my voice to perhaps a billion others in saying how sorry I was for Dustin Johnson, I’m also delighted that Jordan Spieth is the US Open Champion.

Great as it was – and lucky, given the final hole dramatics — Spieth’s victory is what will be remembered most from this past weekend. But it’ll take me, personally, a long time to forget the ridiculous golf course those guys had to play. And much as I’d like to, I simply can’t say many good things about the inaugural golf broadcast mounted by the Fox Network. Allow me to expound…

I love links golf, and I was genuinely excited about watching the best pros in the world play a links course for the first time in a US Open when they teed off on Thursday. My first reaction was that Chambers Bay was awesome, and ruggedly stunning. But over the course of four days, I saw so many excellent golf shots penalized by bad bounces, ridiculous roll-offs, pinball rebounds, and completely unacceptable putting surfaces, that I began to agree with the players who were courageous enough to complain. At first I thought, c’mon guys, suck it up; but at some point I had to just scratch my head and ask “Is this really the best the USGA could put together?”

I’m all for seeing the USGA try new concepts, and set a tough test to separate the men from the boys, but putting the Open on a concrete moonscape that’s contoured like the rides at Canada’s Wonderland? No thanks.

Now, the broadcast. Again, I was optimistic at the outset. But by the end, I couldn’t even give Fox an O for Okay. Yes, there were a couple of good things: the increased use of shot-tracker was great, in my view… the continual leaderboard of 5 names in the lower corner was helpful, although it would have been nice to see a few extra pages from time-to-time… and I really liked the contour shading that they superimposed on the greens, to give viewers a better sense of how putts would break (although they didn’t use it much on the weekend broadcasts).

What didn’t I like? Well, here’s the list I kept adding to as the hours rolled by…

• too much desk analysis, with none of the experts offering much insight or intelligent thought. (Note to Tom Weiskopf: “That’s golf” is an inane thing to say.)
• Joe Buck and Greg Norman looked like 8-year-old schoolboys. (Note to Fox: either lower the desk, or raise the chairs. In fact, why have a desk at all?)
• All the analysts and commentators basically ignored the groundswell of player complaints, and refused to question or denounce the terrible course design and conditions. C’mon guys, report on the story! (Note to Weiskopf: “That’s golf”, etc.)
• I realize a golf ball is only 1.68 inches in diameter, but CBS, NBC, and even CTV have cameramen who can find it in the air and on the course. Not Fox, who seemed to have hired Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles for the weekend.
• Holly Sonders was just plain out of her depth, even in the shallow end of post-game interviews… Juli Inkster, who’s articulate and smart, was given about six seconds of airtime over four days… and other than being totally biased toward the Aussie players, Greg Norman said almost nothing of value for the viewer.
• I should’ve kept count, but I’m seriously estimating that Greg Norman used the phrase “at the end of the day” more than 50 times over four days. Enough, Greg!!
• Would it have killed Fox to have put together some video backgrounders, player profiles, or past US Open highlights to help us ward off sleep over 7 hours each day? I guess so, ‘cause there wasn’t one go-to item.
• For all the advance hype, and months and months to really put new thought, new technology, and a new dimension on golf broadcasting, the Fox presentation was really pedestrian, and disappointing in almost every respect.

And finally, it’s not the USGA’s fault, or Fox’s, but I must say the spectators at this US Open were easily the loudest, stupidest and most obnoxious I’ve ever heard at any sporting event… and boy, could you hear them! Is there a Loudmouth Jackass Academy in the Pacific Northwest that all these people graduated from?

Just when I thought I’d smash my TV with a 7-iron if one more idiot yelled “Babba Booey!”, some Rhodes Scholar screamed “Chacha Chooey!” on the back nine on Sunday.
Every time a shot was struck, it seemed half the male population in the State of Washington felt they had to scream something completely pointless at the top of their lungs.

But the Oscar for Stupidest Golf Fan of All Time has to go to the moron who kept yelling “C’mon Eldridge!” at Tiger Woods on Thursday. I suppose this guy thought he’d endear himself to Tiger by calling out his Christian name… great idea, Dufus, but Tiger’s real name is “Eldrick”.

Ah well, it’s over, and at the end of the day, it was one for the memory books.

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to report that I’ll be at St. Andrews in three weeks, watching (I hope) Jordan Spieth winning the third leg of the modern Impregnable Quadrilateral.

The first guy there that yells “Babba Booey!” will feel the wrong end of my shooting stick across the back of his head.

Jim Deeks
Jim Deeks has been writing for Fairways for over a dozen years. He is a former Executive Director of the Canadian Open and Canadians Skins Game, and currently the Executive Producer and Host of CANADA FILES on PBS.

One thought on “Chambers Music out of tune

  1. Great job Jim! I was totally disappointed with Fox’s presentation of the U.S. Open. With CBS having years under their belt and this being the inaugural voyage for Fox could possibly explain the chasm.
    I’ve never been a Joe Buck fan and I wouldn’t put him in the same category as Jim Grey but he certainly wasn’t properly “golf” prepared.
    You were a little rough on Holly though. Her talents on the Golf Channel were not used on Fox. Not even close.

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