Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
More live golf this past weekend with The Match: Champions for Charity. There are obvious comparisons to the previous week’s match but overall, which one did you find more entertaining?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Can’t say I found one more entertaining or worthy of my eyeballs than the other, because I didn’t spend more than five minutes on each. I’ve shared my distaste and cynicism on these exhibitions in previous Round Table discussions, so no need to repeat. If others found them enjoyable, then jolly good, I say!
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: This match was by far more enjoyable. More banter. The course was more exciting to look at and it poured rain. It was fun to watch the players cope without a caddy. I think there is a tremendous loss of opportunity to portray how serious the virus is. I watch the most powerful person in the world ‘poo-pooing’ mask-wearing while he is a model for the world and his country has 1/3 of the world cases and 25 % of the deaths but only 4% of the population. The players could have and should have worn masks to illustrate their support for Front-line Workers. I also noticed the Ontario Gov’t Guidelines forbid touching the flagstick, but these players did it regardless. However, I loved the ‘mic’d’ carts and the insider discussions.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): The Match 2 was much more entertaining than the Taylor Made Driving Relief, but it wasn’t because of the golf. Charles Barkley and Justin Thomas made the event extremely enjoyable to watch, and Phil’s short game tutorials for Brady were insightful. A few more highlights: Brady holing out for birdie and then ripping his pants; Russell Wilson pledging $100,000 for every shot within 12 feet on the 16th hole before Mickelson, Brady and Manning all nearly holed out; Tom Brady continuously trying to high-five Mickelson throughout his round, while Lefty shirked away from him; and Barkley’s piss-poor drive on 18 in his bogey or better challenge.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I’ll stick with my original prediction that I would have enjoyed the first match more, since it’s four professional golfers, but there was some intrigue to The Match I suppose. It was impressive to see their tee shots into the par 3 17th in that weather under that pressure. The weather didn’t cooperate, which didn’t help, and Medalist, although it was nice to see, didn’t have nearly as much intrigue to me as Seminole. All in all, they raised a ton of money for charity, so they were both successful events.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Was surprised that this one was handled so well by TNT. The announcers were great, Barkley on top of his game, and Justin Thomas’s performance was a welcome reveal. The format was so much better suited to setting up entertainment and a little drama (though the late concessions seemed part of a script to take the match to the 18th.)
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Both had their moments, but the Match 2 was far more entertaining. Mickelson, Manning and Brady were really into the show, and Tiger played some stellar golf. The TNT crew kept things moving and fun and the bits by Barkley and Thomas were really good. Most of all though, the format was better suited to TV, especially the alternate shot portion. Probably, the entire match should have been played that way.
Each of the athletes (Woods, Mickelson, Brady and Manning) contributed to the entertainment in different ways. Who was the MVP of the show?
Deeks: For me, the guy who said, “good night, and thanks for watching.”
Schurman: Tiger is up there with Doug Ford. At first, I didn’t like him. Then I tried to not like him. But I’m finding more and more I have to try harder. I’m not sure which one of us grew-up the most. Tiger’s shot making and his driving (yes, I said driving) are impressive. As for the most entertaining the trophy goes to Charles Barkley with an Honourable mention to Brooks Koepka.
Kaplan: Woods may have hit every fairway. But of the two pros, Phil stole the show with his charisma and advice. Brady had the best shot of the event, but Manning was the more consistent of the QBs. You could also make a case for Barkley and JT being the MVPs of the broadcast, but the true winner was Medalist, which was somehow in perfectly playable condition despite the downpour that fell before and throughout the match.
Rule: I think Peyton was the star of the show for his stellar iron play and more importantly his pace of play! It was refreshing to see someone just step up to the ball and hit it without a 2-minute pre-shot routine.
Quinn: That’s a tough one. Manning played great and his humour carried the show for stretches. Phil’s talking through that chip shot and then almost canning it was spectacular TV, so was Brady canning that 150-yard 7 iron, and Eldrick maximizing his home course advantage by hitting ever drive and swinging great. So, the MVP has to go to Charles Barkley for some of the funniest jock humour in TV history to get the guys going and keep the show rolling.
Mumford: I’m not really a Phil Phan but he pretty much stole the show. Best Supporting Actor had to be Barkley.
It’s still a pretty small sample size (two exhibition matches) but do you think it tells us anything about how tournament golf will be with no fans?
Deeks: They’ll need to mic ALL the players, or have genuinely interesting commentators filling in the gaps, if there are no galleries. But please, no phone-in commentary from the President. And none of these disgusting phone-ins from “pals”, offering $100,000 if a guy hits the green. You wanna impress me, Brooks Koepka? Just give the damn money to charity and stop trying to impress everyone with how rich you are.
Schurman: I didn’t really notice a big difference. TV doesn’t grasp the full fan audio. If someone does miss the fans lets pipe in some taped applause. We know that’s acceptable because the bird songs at the Masters are taped and played on a PA system.
Kaplan: Although fans create electric atmospheres for tournaments and majors, it’s the quality of golf at the end of the day that determines whether an event is worth watching. Provided the level of play is strong when golf returns, I don’t see the absence of fans being an issue.
Rule: That’s hard to say since this was only 4 golfers at each event, and they were mic’d up, and it was more about trying to entertain the TV audience. It will feel different when the regular tour resumes, and the players are taking things seriously and there is no entertainment beyond the golf shots. I’m still looking forward to it though, the fans rarely make a telecast. Obviously, there is the excitement of the fans going nuts when a great shot is hit on Sunday or Tiger is making a charge, but 99% of the time the fans in the US are just annoying. I’m happy that we won’t be hearing anything about mashed potatoes on the telecasts for a while!
Quinn: Not much. The guys and ladies won’t wear mics so there won’t be any insights, reveals, or F bombs. But it will be nice to see how far errant shots roll out when not stopped by either spectators or patrons.
Mumford: Apart from the majors, where the courses are packed with people, the absence of fans shouldn’t make much difference to anybody. Except there won’t be any people to help look for a lost ball or move a big rock or act as a backstop for errant approaches. One troubling sign from the two charity matches with no fans and nobody else on the course, it still took over five hours to play each of the matches. That’s not a good omen for full field tournaments.