Monday, July 23, 2007

‘ESPN on ABC’ British Open Coverage

I don’t care how many media names are linked together, the ‘ESPN on ABC’ coverage of the British Open was poor. I’ve already talked about too many commercials so I won’t belabor that point. I’ve already talked about not telling the story, not selling the excitement, so I won’t go there, but what about showing a few shots from more than the top two tournament leaders and Tiger. For example, Mike Weir started Sunday just off the lead, but I don’t think there was more than one shot of him during all of Saturday. And where was Romero? Until his back nine on Sunday I didn’t even know he existed. Most golf fans are interested in more than just the two low scorers. I know it’s hard to keep a storyline going on 8 or 10 golfers at a time, but isn’t that what top coverage is supposed to provide. It’s not rocket science, if you had fewer commercials you could show more golf. Of course we all know that golf, like most things in life, is about the bottom line. Whoever is willing to pay the most earns the right to provide the coverage, regardless of whether they can do it best. Imagine building skyscrapers or bridges based only on the low bid.

However, what irked me the most was the interview with Jean Van de Velde. First, most everything on TV these days is focused on human failure. Producers have decided that no one in their right mind wants to hear about success. Golf coverage, in general, seems to be a bunch of commentators just waiting for the next golfer to choke. Success is under-played while failure is played up and repeated until you’re ready to swear off pop culture altogether.

But I digress. How dare the interviewer try to browbeat the seriously ill Jean Van de Velde into some kind of complete emotional breakdown. Talk about poor decision making, the producer of that piece ought to be enshrined in a prominent place in the hall of shame. Monsieur Van de Velde very clearly and graciously described his feelings then and now. This, however, wasn’t enough for the producers. I felt they wouldn’t be satisfied until the guy committed seppuku on screen. Adding further to the aggravation, they had to show footage of his collapse at least 5 different times on Sunday. ESPN or ABC or whoever you are, we get the picture, we know the story but this is now and that was then. Show us the live coverage, build the drama, explain the game, use the Swing Cam (or whatever it’s called), keep the commercials down and let us enjoy the terrific competition. You might also want to teach your commentators that what they don’t say is as important as what they do say. Great jazz artists discover this as they mature. The idea that ‘dead air’ is such a terrible thing has really made coverage almost unbearable at times. If it wasn’t one of the majors I would have turned it off!

One more thing for the commentators – you don’t have to pretend you know which way every putt is going to break. It doesn’t really add anything and we can all see the results and judge for ourselves. If we didn’t have to worry about line and speed, every putt would go in. We get it – don’t browbeat us! Telling us that there’s a big ridge across the green or that a put has about a dramatic break is a help because it helps paint the picture. Telling us your guess that a putt is going to break an inch left or right adds nothing.

Tiger, Strongest Golfer or Best Golfer?

I thought Tiger’s performance at the British Open was very interesting, even though not victorious. Let’s add some perspective; Tiger hasn’t one a major yet this year. Of course, that’s only unusual for him. What struck me was how big Tiger is – muscle-wise. He clearly has the most bulked-up physique of any pro golfer. While he has been buff in years past, it’s clear that he’s put on a lot of muscle mass this year. He admits that himself. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re playing a sport where size is needed, like linebacker in the NFL.

I thought everyone knew that you can’t be a great golfer if you’re muscle bound. Hasn’t this always been taken for granted in the golfing community? Is this nothing more than a wives’ tale? Tiger’s performance this past week certainly doesn’t refute it. But maybe it was just an off-week for him. After all, he’s human. However, golf flows, it’s more about rhythm than brute force. One of the attractions of the game of golf has always been that little skinny guys could hit it as far, if not farther, than the big brutes. Just look at Gary Player and Chi Chi Rodriguez.

I’m no musculoskeletal expert, but it doesn’t seem a stretch to imagine that all that muscle fiber would be more sensitive to random electrical impulses causing it to twitch and fire at the wrong moment – just what you don’t want in a golf swing. Maybe a neuromuscular expert can shed the light of science on this, but I’m going with my gut that big humongous muscles and golf don’t mix. Don’t the big biceps just get in the way?

Regardless of my theories on physique, Tiger’s swing was way out of whack, his shots missing both right and left and we’re talking irons here, not the driver. Where there’s fluidity to most pro swings, Tiger’s has always seemed a bit strained, now more so than ever. Maybe it’s just because he swings faster (harder?) than everyone else. All I know is that I cringe when I imagine myself swinging that way, something I don’t feel with most of the other pros.

Could it be that Tiger needs a teacher? Hank Haney is his current coach, but from all accounts I’ve read, it’s the most tenuous of teacher student relationships. It’s more like ‘Hank, tell me if my hands are too much out in front’, meaning Tiger sets the agenda and Hank gets to speak only when spoken to. I’ll admit for the record that I’ve never taught anyone golf except my wife, but I don’t think it takes more than common sense to see that something is wrong in Tiger’s swing and I don’t think more muscle is the fix.

Tiger has won so much that it mutes criticism. He’s the ‘best golfer in the world’ so how dare anyone standup to him and say differently. The danger is that someday, and maybe it’s now, he’s going to need a third party critique. Unfortunately, at that point, there may be no one willing to say the emperor has no clothes on.

Tiger, maybe I’m wrong, it’s only my guess. And I wouldn’t be disappointed if you came back and won the PGA this year as well as the FedEx Cup. That sure would shut up the naysayers for awhile and might just be enough to get me to breakout the free weights.

GolfDash Website Gets A Facelift!

The GolfDash website has just gone through a major revision with significant enhancements for both visitors and members. Of course I’m prejudiced being one of the co-founders, but in my humble opinion a great website is now even better.

First, the graphics and layout are much improved. Take a look and you’ll see a cleaner website and, most importantly, one that is easier to understand and navigate. I don’t think there’s a more professional or sophisticated golf site out there in internet land and I’ve seen most of them.

Here’s a quick tour of the site and what’s changed. The GolfDash logo, Member Sign-in, Daily Headline and Featured Site are now all at the top of the site in a horizontal band. Added to this in the middle is a new feature – a Calendar - which provides a quick list of all the PGA and LPGA tour dates. With a simple click, you’ll know where the tour is in any given week.

Directly below this top section is an RSS feed for Headlines and the Weather Center. GolfDash members can customize content in these two areas as they see fit. This is a great benefit to be able to track the news and weather that’s important to you. If you only use the public site, think about becoming a member – it’s still free!

Below the Headlines and Weather is the heart of GolfDash – links to over 4000 golf related websites all nicely categorized and searchable. The left side navigation that gives access to all this content now sports a brand new look. Additionally, every heading in the left navigation can be expanded or closed by clicking the carrot next to it, allowing you to make the site as simple or complex as you need. The GolfDash Search Box is still at the top and allows users search access by keyword(s). Directly below that is a list of the major site Content Areas which facilitates navigation to every link in the GolfDash database. Frequent users will see that these major content areas have been tweaked, making the groupings more logical. Clicking on a given entry brings the corresponding Content Categories into the center section of the website.

The tabbed Content Categories across the center of the site now include a description area making it easier to understand what is included. The Subcategories and Links under Content Categories sport a new layout which makes them much easier to read and understand. Members can add and delete links as they see fit, and they have their own My Links tab where they can create their own categories and corresponding links - one more reason to become a member.

Back in the left navigation, below the site content is our Featured Advertiser. This space is for rent and any would-be advertisers can contact Doug or me directly at This is a great way to get exposure to more than 3500 golfers daily (unique visits) in a thoughtful and prominent, yet unobtrusive, way.

Next entry in the left navigation is a list of the most recent entries in the GolfDash Blog. A click on any headline takes you directly to the blog. Below this is a list of Sponsored Links. Anyone wishing to be highlighted should contact Doug or me for rates.

Last on the left navigation is News which is a list of headlines from prominent golf publications and news services. In a moment you can quickly get a sense of what’s happening on a daily basis in the world of golf.

Doug and I took to heart your suggestions and put a lot of work into the GolfDash website to make it easier for every golfer and every industry professional to take advantage of all the great golf content that exists on the web. There are so many good golf resources on the internet that it’s a shame to miss out simply because you didn’t know they existed. As always, we want and need your suggestions. Doug and I firmly believe that we can have a great website only if we get and use input from site users! Please contact us anytime at

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Sweet Swing of Ben Hogan

Ok, there is no sound to this video (which I would love to hear) but just watching the swing of Hogan is a treat.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Golf Needs A New Kind Of Publication

I read a lot of golf magazines. Or, more correctly, I peruse a lot of golf magazines. It’s part of my job to be up on the latest in golf, so I go to the local bookstore and leaf through seven or eight different ones each month to get the latest and greatest news on golf.

I never really considered the whole lot of these publications until just recently. I was content to look through them and come away with a strange sense of emptiness, but never really question why. Maybe I’m a little thick, but it finally dawned on me. They are all marketing publications. They’re not thoughtful, unbiased journals about the wonderful game/sport of golf. They’re extensions of the golf courses, equipment makers, destination resorts, travel agencies, and teaching pros to sell us the sport.

Think about it. When’s the last time you read anything critical of the sport in a golf magazine or a thoughtful article on the state of the game. Who’s writing about slow play, the fact that amateurs never get better, how all the ‘cure your slice’ articles never reduce the number of slicers, how there’s no club that can keep you from hitting it fat, the high price of destination golf courses, or the lack of creative course architecture. They can’t. If they did, who would pay for the magazine, certainly not the current advertisers who all have a stake in keeping us all in dreamland. Think about it, there must be at least three pages of unabashed advertising for every one page of an article.

Can the sport of golf evolve sensibly and protect its wonderful heritage without thoughtful discourse on what’s right and wrong with the current game. Take the issue that many private courses around the country, with a few exceptions, are losing membership at an alarming rate. This is more than a single facility problem, it’s endemic to golf in this country in the 21st century.

Like most naysayers, I can point out problems, but I don’t have much to offer in the way of a solution. Maybe we need someone with deep pockets and a religious commitment to the game to fund such a noble undertaking. Could it pay for itself in a year or so once golfers realized how refreshing it would be to read about golf without being sold every step of the way? Maybe it could attract advertisers who want to market to golfers, but don’t have a vested interest in the sport. Look at the TV advertisers to find some likely candidates.

Honesty has to be as good for golf as it is for everything else. For every advertising dollar that honest reporting might drive away, there is another dollar lurking in the shadows just waiting to associate itself with the wonderful sport of golf.