Fun Golf – What’s Wrong With That?
ORLANDO, FLORIDA | Way back in the last century – during the peak of Tigermania – golf was changing, especially those watching it. When Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes at the age of 21 – one of golf’s great palindromes – he pulled a 14.1 Sunday Nielsen TV rating, likely an unbreakable record. Still, there were those who felt the flamboyant Woods and his rowdy, new fans were somehow compromising the integrity of the game. Later that year, to mark the one-year-anniversary of Tiger’s “Hello, World” press conference in which he turned pro, I did a story for The Associated Press on the economic impact of Woods’ first year on tour. I asked one sage on the business side of golf to assess Woods. This expert said: “Anything that gets people into the tent is good for the circus.” I say that dude nailed it. As long as the focus remains on golf – the winner is the person who gets the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than anyone else – bringing some bells and whistles to the game can only help. This week, the LPGA season kicks off with the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by Insurance Office of America. It’s an event replete with celebrity contestants, a mixed-gender long-drive contest and more fun than should be allowed at any sporting event. And what’s wrong with that? We have a lot of golf on the calendar – at least a half-dozen prominent stroke-play tournaments somewhere in the world each week. This week alone, GGP has correspondents in Orlando for this LPGA season opener, in La Quinta, Calif., for the Desert Classic, in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Championship, and in the Dominican Republic for the Latin America Amateur Championship. Golf everywhere. That’s […]