TV Blog: Time for some laughs this 'silly season'

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - DECEMBER 02: Fans follow the group of Tiger Woods of the United States andf Hideki Matsuyama of Japan during the third round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas on December 2, 2017 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

TV Blog: Time for some laughs this 'silly season'

PGA Tour

TV Blog: Time for some laughs this 'silly season'

Several years ago, when the QBE Shootout was known to everyone as the Shark Shootout, this part of the PGA Tour schedule was known as Silly Season. Players showed up to play in limited-field events with alternate formats, no cuts and easy money.

Then some scolds insisted we not use the term “Silly Season.” After all, these events raised money for charity, so we should show them some respect.

Fine, whatever.

But the truth is, I don’t care about the QBE Shootout. I watched the coverage on Golf Channel this past weekend because my job requires it.

Part of my problem with the coverage is it’s no different than what we see any other week of the year. If the production team can’t break free of the weekly formula during (yes, I’m going to say it) Silly Season, when will they ever do it.

“It’s a fun weekend, we’re having a nice time,” Shane Lowry said in his post-round interview Saturday.

But the announcers and crew were grinding as if they were airing one of the big Florida Swing events in March. As I was watching, I was thinking: Guys, lighten up. Have some fun, a few laughs.

My point is, as a viewer, I might be interested in watching the QBE Shootout if the TV production crew, or the PGA Tour, were inclined to do something out of the ordinary. Maybe they could mic up some players or caddies, or do some walk-and-talks or preview some new technology we’ll see next year. Give me some reason to care. But no, it was the same tired formula we see 49 other weeks of the year.

80 holes in one

Far more entertaining was a “Golf Central Pregame” investigative piece Sunday by Artie Lange, of all people, on Dan Decando, an elderly, 15-handicapper from Mahwah, N.J. Decando claims to have made 80 holes-in-one in his lifetime, including 60 just in 2015-16.

The story was called “AceHole,” which pretty much tells you what Lange thought of Decando and his tales. Even some of Decando’s playing partners were forced to admit, in retrospect, that many of those aces seemed pretty fishy.

Should TV help?

Curmudgeonly New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick asked an interesting question over the weekend about on-course reporters who help players find errant drives.

“Should TV, ostensibly there only to cover the tournament, volunteer to help determine its outcome?” Mushnick asked.

He raised the issue because NBC’s Jim “Bones” Mackay helped Charley Hoffman find a drive that landed deep in the right rough during the final round of the Hero World Challenge. Mackay’s not alone; we see this happen virtually every week with various on-course reporters. Mushnick argued that the assistance “NBC provided Hoffman was inequitable in that because he was in contention, TV was there.” Other players who were not being followed by NBC’s crew could not have received the same treatment. Mushnick also questioned whether slow-motion replays should be used to help locate drives in the rough.

Mushnick concluded: “Given that TV assistance can’t be given to all – think of the advantage TV would provide Tiger Woods – it should be given to none.”

I remember watching the incident with Mackay and feeling uneasy about it, but couldn’t pinpoint what was troubling me about it. Mushnick put his finger on the problem. If fans want to help players look for lost balls, go for it. But the TV crews should stand aside and not get involved.

Blustery Sands

I didn’t have space to touch on this in my column following last week’s Hero World Challenge, but I wanted to address the performance of Steve Sands, who anchored that coverage for Golf Channel. Before putting Sands back in the anchor chair, some of Golf Channel’s higher-ups need to schedule an intervention with him.

Over the years, I’ve written so many kind words about Sands’ work as a reporter and interviewer that his agent probably cites my comments during contract negotiations. As the anchor, however, Sands seemed incapable of saying in 20 words what he could say in 200.

His bosses need to address this before assigning him to anchor future tournaments. By the second round of the Hero, I wished I could have retracted every nice word I’ve ever written about Sands. If he had reduced his volume of words by half, it still would have been twice as many as he needed to say.  

(Note: This column appears in the Dec. 11, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

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