‘CSI’ takes on the Tour in prime-time
When Rocco Mediate’s overcooked draw comes to rest deep in the rough, in the lap of a bloodied, dead man sitting in a golf cart, Mediate realizes he’s going to need help.
“If that’s our ball, we’re definitely going to need a ruling,” Mediate tells his caddie.
“Rocco’s dead in here,” reports on-course announcer David Feherty, “but I gotta tell you, I don’t think he’s the only one.”
So begins golf’s unlikely starring role in prime-time, and I’m not talking about the Sony Open from Hawaii. Several Tour players show up in the Jan. 21 episode of “CSI,” which has been on the air since 2000 and remains one of television’s top-rated dramas. Aside from Mediate and Feherty, Duffy Waldorf, Gary McCord and Natalie Gulbis make cameos.
Golfers will particularly enjoy the scene where Dr. Raymond Langston, played by Laurence Fishburne, confronts Kevin Na on the range.
“C’mon, man, no autographs right now,” says an annoyed Na.
“That was a very nice finish,” Langston replies, “but you’ve been laying it off at the top a little bit lately. You might want to watch that.”
The plot of the episode, titled “Long Ball,” concerns a young tour pro named Danny Nagano, who shoots a course-record 61, unaware that his shady caddie had given him juiced balls. His father, Russell, learns the truth and chastises Danny for violating the “honor of the game.”
Russell is old-school all the way. After Russell is found dead, Danny tells Capt. Jim Brass about one of his father’s old drivers: “It was a gift from Byron Nelson – a ’55 five-screw MacGregor MT Eye-O-Matic. He loved that club.”
What’s striking is that the “CSI” writers immersed themselves in the minutiae of golf’s rules and equipment testing without sucking the life out of the show. The dialogue and details will ring true to serious golfers without becoming tedious to viewers who regard golf as little more than a cure for insomnia.
During the investigation, crime-scene investigator Nick Stokes tells colleague Sara Sidle that some balls have a lot of spin while others “have a hard core for the long game. You know, each one is unique.”
Sara is unimpressed: “Ahh, just like snowflakes.”
A lab technician studies the course’s Rye, Bent and Bermuda grasses to determine the site of the crime scene. And Stokes and Langston brush up on USGA rules regarding conforming and nonconforming equipment before testing Danny’s clubs and balls.
Who knew that arcane golf terminology such as “trampoline effect” and “dimple patterns” could find a home in a compelling TV drama? The only thing missing is a cameo by USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge.