Golf gives and golf takes away and leaves me a little confused. A little frustrated.
It’s silly season. A phrase probably best personified by the recent Black Friday, Cyber Monday consumer madness where it was shop, shop, shop and think about your financials later. Silly indeed.
And if you think golf isn’t about financials, then how wrong you are.
Unfortunately for me – and the immediacy of the digital world being what it is – I missed the boat on penning down, typing rather, my thoughts on Lee Westwood’s drought-breaking win. I did that. But not in conjunction with the stories of Matt Kuchar and Danny Willett. What a time for golf. Good guys beating good fields to win again. For Westwood and Kuchar it had been some time, but for Willett it was a win that justified all his hard work and exorcised the demon of doubt.
If you’re good enough to win The Masters, then you’re good enough to win again. That’s easy to say, but it took him through an emotional wringer to do it.
Golf was in a good place again.
And then came The Match. The no-holds-barred, money-in-your-face contest between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
What a disaster for the image of the game.
A game built on integrity and sportsmanship. The Match reduced it to a pretentious show between two golfers who dominated the game a decade or more ago. Two golfers playing for an obscene amount of money they may have difficulty in spending.
It ended in the dark with a pitch and a putt from 93 yards. How fitting.
It has rightly, at least in my view, been slammed by many. I do feel a little relieved that I’m just one in the crowd who thinks it was a disgusting display of everything that’s wrong with the game.
How can you grow the game to those outside of the multi-million dollar income bracket? It’s unfathomable that two golfers in the twilight of their careers would put themselves up for this. It was a show without substance and ended as a total farce. It was only ever about the money.
The pre-match hype was pathetic and fell flat. The contest never hit second gear. And the picture of Phil the victor with stacks of cash made me sick to my stomach.
Beyond the PPV glitches, the lack of banter, the restrictions on the side bet and the muted finish, there wasn’t a lot going for it.
I’m glad it failed. But what concerns me, is how this kind of fake golf could take off. Some media ‘across the pond’ reckon this is just the start. Imagine having to sit through another one of these things? Is golf on its way to becoming WWE?
The Ryder Cup was everything that golf needs – it transcended the sport and gained traction among those not previously interested in this great game. Then came Westwood’s Sun City win. Later that night it was Kuchar. Who didn’t enjoy Danny Willett being surrounded by his young family after burying illness, injury and self-doubt at the Tour Championship?
Heck, I’ll even throw Tiger’s return to the circle in this bunch of great golf stories of recent times.
With all that progress, you have The Match. One step forward, (at least) two back.
We all know how great this game can be. How exhilarating. And how frustrating. We’ve had a taste of the best over the past weeks, but The Match certainly leaves a sour note note on the palate.