Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why Golf Is Relevant

If you thought I was going to sit idly by why Joe bashed golf, well, most of the time you would have been right. But not today. Even with Tiger Woods missing the rest of the 2008 season, people, including me, are going to continue to watch golf... and here is why.

First, the idea that golf is comparable to darts is ridiculous. No, wait, not ridiculous, something stronger than ridiculous, maybe ludicrous, yeah, I'm going with that. Sure the tasks are similar, "Put a small item into a small area", but that's exactly what a pitcher in baseball is trying to do and I don't think anybody would say that baseball athletes are equivalent to dart tossers. Make no mistake, golfers are athletes. Propelling a golf ball 300+ yards is a full body activity and golfers like Camilo Villegas, Aaron Baddeley and, yes, Tiger Woods, are showing that fitness and athleticism are just as important in golf as in any other sport (yep, you are saying "what about John Daly's fat ass?" and to that I say: David Wells, Charles Barkley and Tony Siragusa).

Additionally, golf requires more precision and concentration than any other sport. As far as precision is concerned, baseball is often called "a game of inches" and this is no doubt true, but golf is much, much finer. A few hundredths of an inch makes the difference between a precise stroke and one that finds the deep rough. Another few hundredths of an inch makes the difference between a ball that stops ten feet from the pin and one that rolls right through and into a green-side bunker. The ability of a player to control his muscles to deliver a quality strike time and time again is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sport and I know this because very few people can actually do it. This also speaks to the intense concentration it takes to be a professional golfer. With rounds typically lasting more than four hours, there are few sports that require their athletes to concentration for this length of time. Football, baseball and basketball games rarely last more than 3 hours and all these sports have long breaks during which players can regroup and refocus if things aren't going correctly. Having to maintain the mental focus to perform a difficult and precise task is the very essence of sport.

On to the argument that nobody will watch golf now that Tiger is out. Umm, no, that's not true. While Woods definitely brings alot of focus on the sport, PGA tour events will continue to be widely watched, analyzed and appreciated. The two remaining majors will definitely garner attention, with the history and uniqueness of the British Open and the always competitive PGA Championship. But those two events aside, golf will remain very, very popular. How do I know this? Well, like everything else, just look at the money. Again, Tiger is the best at bringing in dollars (in both golf and all of professional sports, making a jaw dropping $127 million in 2007), but guess who was the second highest grossing professional athlete last year, that's right another golfer. Phil Mickelson made over $62 million in 2007, which is well behind Tiger, but over 50% more than the next closest athlete, Lebron James. The interesting thing about Phil is that over 80% of his earnings came from endorsements, not winnings. That means companies ponied up alot of dough to have Phil endorse their product because they know alot of eyes are going to be on their guy. And over $50 million means that ALOT of eyes have to be on your guy. With that much money invested in a guy that isn't Tiger, you can rest assured that the PGA remain on the public's mind and on Sportscenter (sorry Joe), even without the best player in the world.


Chip said...

FINALLY... something you both disagree on. Debates are a lot more interesting when its back and forth.

I have to agree with Joe Mandi here... Golf is relevant.

I do enjoy watching it and, even more so, playing it (despite my lack of skill). There's something great about being outside with a few friends with something to do. Its a social activity and its great.

Keep the disagreements coming...

When are we playing 18?

GoodPointJoe said...

I can't really argue against people playing golf, people should do whatever they enjoy. But golf as a sporting event is, I think, absurd. To me, sporting events are defined by three factors: competition, fan involvement, and tests of physical skill, and golf only has one of those three. By my calculations, that puts them two points behind American Gladiators, and one point behind professional wrestling.

Marcus said...

Golf has all three components. Competition, because you may shoot a good round but if you don't beat someone's score you are going to lose. This is why the 2 players with the lowest scores are paired together for the final round. More times than not the winner comes from that final grouping. Golf has fan involvement. In what other sport can you be literally 5 feet from a player and not have to pay 2000 dollars for the privilege. And have you ever heard the roar of a crowd when a 30 foot putt goes down? Now spread this over 18 holes and you have a crowd larger than basketball, larger than some college football, larger than hockey, and larger than baseball. You think 40,000 plus show up to a tournament because they feel like they are not involved? Now we are down to tests of physical skill. It is never appreciated how difficult it is to hit a golf ball straight and long until you try it. NOW WHO'S VERBOSE!!

GoodPointJoe said...

The physical skill part is there, I don't argue that. But you've got to look at my posts and see why I feel like the competition aspect is weak, and fan involvement is virtually nonexistent. If I can't at least believe (albeit facetiously) that I'm having an impact on the players (I cite Chip's post on the forum entitled Booing Barry), I don't feel involved.

When you feel just as involved sitting at home (and perhaps more so because you actually get to see far more golf by multiple golfers on multiple holes), that doesn't constitute legitimate fan involvement to me.

Marcus said...

I think it is just a different kind of fan involvement. Traditionally in tennis, people don't cheer until the point has been won or a spectacular shot has been made. In almost any sport you can see more sitting at home. You get instant replays, slow motion, and different angles. For me, there is not a single sport that I would rather be home watching than there in person. Some people say that about football, because depending on the seat, it may be difficult to even make out players numbers. You go to the event so you can feel the atmosphere. And I don't think there has to be boos in order to feel involved. Have you ever seen how mad Tiger gets when someone clicks the camera during his swing. That is directly effecting him. Now you might get kicked out if you continue to do it, but you can probably get away with it a couple of times.

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