The PGA Tour doesn’t need more team events. Suggesting that the insertion of more team competition into the calendar will result in a massive uptick for stroke-play events is misguided.
ESPN’s Jason Sobel was right to equate the enthusiasm for the Zurich Classic team format with a similar phenomenon: calls for more match play during the WGC Match Play Championship.
However, as we’ve seen in recent years, enthusiasm for that tournament has waned in recent years, especially in light of the group-stage format introduced in 2015.
Rather than expressing enthusiasm for two-man team golf, it seems fans and players were really embracing variety.
“Personally, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the rationale behind arguing that if an unconventional idea is effective enough, it should become a conventional one.”
The real question the success of the Zurich Classic should bring up is this: What are the problems with PGA Tour stroke-play events on television? Focusing on adding more non-traditional events is merely a distraction from issues with the “traditional” product.
And beyond this, it’s worth mentioning that the many of the most beloved events are the ones with their own traditions fans can participate in—whether in person or vicariously. Consider everything from the Masters pimento cheese sandwich to the festival atmosphere of the 15th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Events have rightly been trying to emphasize and expand upon their unique elements in recent years, offering everything from free concerts to food trucks. All of this is important, but T.V. ratings remain the mother’s milk of fandom.
If you have your ear to the ground in the golf Twitterverse, here are some of the most common complaints about golf coverage (CBS in particular).
Protracer/Trackman: Fans seem to have an endless appetite for Protracer technology. Likewise, the use of Trackman date on every tee shot should be as omnipresent as the radar gun in baseball.
PGA Tour live integrations: The PGA Tour’s Live product is excellent for following featured groups on Thursday and Friday. On the weekend, however, it takes a seat at the very rear of the bus to the telecast. You gotta be able to watch the tournament leaders on PGA Tour live on the weekend.
Show more shots: An extremely common refrain. Frank Tarkanian, the producer who built CBS’ golf product to the best in the business felt showing as many shots as possible was his duty. This doesn’t seem to be a guiding principle any more. Both casual and hardcore fans would like to see more golf.
More relevant features: Axe the Jimmy Roberts’ features and give Skratch TV five minutes of airtime. The result would be a heckuva lot better and much more pleasing to a younger audience than Roberts’ sap.
Player caddie convos: The conversation between player and caddie is a unique element of the game. Particularly down the stretch, fans love to hear what’s being said. Much more than they love hearing, say, Nick Faldo.
Equipment features, Tour trucks: There’s a whole portion of the PGA Tour week that gets very little coverage. Monday through Wednesday, many players demo new equipment, make adjustments and are wooed by reps from any number of merchandise companies. The world of the range and Tour vans prior to the tournament is of endless fascination to equipment enthusiasts. It deserves more exposure.
And a final word: Bring back the Skins Game, dammit!