Media column: Here’s how I’d fix the Clambake

Jordan Spieth, right, hits out a bunker onto the seventh green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Media column: Here’s how I’d fix the Clambake

Digital Edition

Media column: Here’s how I’d fix the Clambake

Did you know that Pebble Beach Golf Links is “an American treasure”? Were you aware the course and the Monterey Peninsula offer “beautiful views” and “wonderful scenery”? Or that the par-3 seventh at Pebble is “iconic” and “gorgeous” and “one of the most beautiful holes in golf”?

I learned all of this and more listening to CBS’ Jim Nantz, Ian Baker-Finch and others call the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It truly was an education.

OK, there’s a point to my sarcasm. All of the encomiums to the beauty of Pebble Beach are superfluous – as if someone felt the need to remind us that Bill Gates is rich. These statements are self-evident. The pictures of the coastline tell the story. There’s nothing these announcers can add. And that’s understandable; their job is to call golf, not describe the setting as if they were writing for The New York Times travel section.

I suppose if Nantz and company suddenly were blessed with the poetic gifts of, say, John Keats or Robert Frost, they could convey the wonders of the Monterey Peninsula in soul-enriching verses that would inspire millions of viewers to rise up off their couches, walk to their computers and book that Pebble Beach vacation they’ve been putting off for years.

But that’s not going to happen. Instead, all we’re going to get are hackneyed adjectives – “beautiful,” “iconic,” “gorgeous” – repeated ad nauseam. That only serves to clutter the broadcasts while not doing justice to the setting.

That’s just one of many problems that have tarnished the grand old Clambake.

Consider this: How many of the Pebble Beach “celebrities” would you pay to see perform? I’d pay to watch Justin Verlander pitch. I might splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime meal at one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants if I received an unexpected five-figure tax-return windfall. But that’s about it.

Most of the amateurs are B-listers and corporate suits who most of us probably would never welcome into our foursome – unless we could score a free round at Pebble.

AT&T, CBS, the PGA Tour and Pebble Beach Co. have turned the once-classy Clambake into a glorified corporate outing. In the process, they’ve made it one of the least-watchable tournaments of the year.

I come here today, however, not merely to criticize, but rather to share my wisdom on how to fix this hot mess. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:

Reboot the cast

Stop inviting back the same tired cast of characters. Josh Duhamel? Ray Romano? Some of the pros in the field weren’t even born the last time Huey Lewis had a hit record. Let’s institute a rule: If amateurs can’t make it to Sunday on their first three attempts, they can’t return for at least three years. Take some lessons and work on your short games. Meanwhile, the organizers can use the opportunity to refresh the field with some A-list star power.

No chance, no TV

Stop showing amateurs who have no chance of making the cut. That means you, Heidi Ueberroth. And you, Larry the Cable Guy. If you’re not in the hunt, you’re not on TV.

Make our day

Stop bringing Clint Eastwood into the 18th tower. Eastwood, 87, is still making movies, and his mind is still sharp. But his annual appearances in the booth are cringe-worthy. When Rory McIlroy nearly made eagle at 18 Saturday, despite a penalty stroke, Nantz said excitedly, “Clint, have you ever seen anything like this?” Eastwood didn’t respond. I’m a big believer in adhering to traditions, but there has to be a limit. Eastwood reached his limit at Pebble Beach about a decade ago.

Mic up 5 amateurs each day

Make it a condition of their participation. Maybe you’ll catch some interesting or amusing exchanges between the pros and ams.

Show more action

This sounds like the sort of thing I could write each week, but it’s especially true at this event. There are three courses filled with pros and amateurs trying to make it to Sunday. Yet, in addition to all of those coastline shots, CBS still managed to waste more time Saturday showing: two Dustin Johnson swing sequences in the first 63 minutes; and two replays of Jordan Spieth’s approach to No. 18 – from last year. It felt as if CBS was filling time when it had an abundance of live action to show.

No dogs allowed

Similarly, stop wasting so much airtime with scene-setting shots of dogs on the beach or people frolicking in the ocean. CBS director Steve Milton and his camera operators frame lovely images, but as noted above, all the shots of the beach seem like overkill. If CBS simply focused on showing golf being played along those scenic coastal holes, I suspect it would have the desired effect of making viewers think: Man, I wish I were there. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home