Sports Goggles

Archive for the ‘PGA’ Category

Time for a Station Break

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I was in the midst of writing something, but this is more important…. and it’s one of those “blogger” diary entry deals, so bear with me, please.

Another “out of the box” earnest Internet writer hit me up for a chat. We had a round-about concerning Brett Favre and racism for about an hour. Toward the end of our chat he turned the conversation to the paucity of good “bloggers” who say anything or real worth. And one of the observations that could be inferred from our conversation is that the higher you go in the “blogsphere,” generally the less quality content there is.

You can never convince me that 100-word blurbs that act as prefaces to link dumps and picture after picture after picture of half-naked women or “isn’t she hot” photos equals substance; it isn’t worth trying to argue with me about it, so don’t go there. And pap-filled snark day after day doesn’t mean diddly-pooh. In fact, I remember laughing aloud when I was told in an email by one of these types that, “My friends and I who own these blogs bust our asses all day long thinking of snarky jokes, so if that makes us members of the white, racist, frat-boy sports blogsphere crowd, I’m fucking proud of it.”

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Welcome to the Masters and the World of Walking Ghosts

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Phil is just one of the ghosts of the PGA Tour.Come tomorrow avid golf fans and casual observers alike will turn their eyes rapt in attention to the PGA’s first major, the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The 8 a.m. tee off time of Bill Mayfair and Ian Poulter will mark the 71st playing of the tournament and the course that Bobby Jones built.

Many watchers of the Masters will know most, if not every entrant to the tournament. Yet what no reporter, spectator, and no television viewer will know is what goes on inside the ropes. Despite our preoccupation with having vital information concerning the private lives of our favorite athletes, we know little of the lives beyond the course of golfers. Despite the media’s want for information in the way of the scoop or the investigative article, no one has come remotely close to peering behind the veil that lies between golfers’ public personae and the reality of their beings.

For all his crowing of his trials and tribulations, we have never seen John Daly in midstream during one of his famed alcohol binges. For all his acclaimed Las Vegas gambling junkets, defending Masters Champion Phil Mickelson has never been the subject of paparazzi who lurk in every hall and portico of every casino in the city that never sleeps.

It is as if those who fill us with picturesque tales of the on course exploits and foibles of some of the world’s most recognizable sports figures act more as keepers of secrets than men and women who seek to sate the hunger of an ever-voyeuristic public.

Golfers are the only sportsmen who are allowed to craft their own image as they see fit without so much as a tame query from the rest of the world; Sergio Garcia is the swashbuckling playboy of Michelob Light commercials and Aaron Baddeley is the young heartthrob of MacGregor Golf commercial fame. Otherwise, only Tiger Woods is seen as having more than one side to his personality – and we have no idea if anything portrayed in the myriad commercials in which he is featured are anything more than today’s version of hiding in plain sight.

Searching for insights into the players’ mental or physical states as they enter the Masters Thursday is a lesson in futility. After looking on the Internet for a morsel – a dust ball in a far-off corner – of information, I found nothing. Finally, I turned to old standby the New York Times and its renowned golf reporter, Damon Hack, for news.

The only piece of personal information among all the golf articles in the “Golf” section of the Times is a hackneyed Hack piece on Augusta native, Charles Howell III; worn news brought up to date only by the passing of Howell’s birthdays and Woods’ dominance of the course and the game.

It is said by many in the mainstream media and those on the Internet who ape the mainstream that the reason for the public infatuation with NBA is because its player’s faces are exposed for their immediate audience and all viewing the world to see. Every expression of the NBA player can be read, analyzed, and dissected at a moment’s notice. As a result, media members feel they have an added responsibility to tell the public what lies behind the expression – and bring those expressions to life in print. Additionally, since these players of sports ply their trade in the public domain, their private lives are fair game for reporters, television cameras, photographers, and the general public.

By the reasoning given for the mostly black NBA, PGA golfers – almost all white – then are the ultimate sporting public figures. Not only can we see their faces, but spectators actually traverse the same 18 holes side-by-side with the men they pay good money to watch in person. Yet these men, seen weekly by millions, tens of millions during the four days majors are played, walk unencumbered by the thought of who knows what bar they drank in Saturday night, or the speeding ticket they received last month. They walk confidently knowing no one knows how much money they lost or won in Las Vegas, or with whom they may have they spent their time there.

The Masters and the other three majors are the only sporting events where television networks pay hundreds of millions of dollars to air the event and yet we know little of the status of the figures participating in those events; we know more about a horse entering the Kentucky Derby than we do a human playing four rounds of golf. These men are, with endorsements, are among the wealthiest sportsmen in the world, but you won’t see their cars, their homes, or anything beyond the city in which they spend the most time during the offseason; the place they designate for the world to know as their home, whether it is true or not.

Come tomorrow when you tune your computer to one of many Internet sites carrying hole-by-hole updates of the Masters think for just a moment about one of the golfers in the Master’s field. Think about what you know of him, and then compare that lack of knowledge with a well-known athlete of your choice in any other widely-televised American sport; what you won’t know about that golfer is a bit disconcerting. Then again, perhaps it will be the realization of what you do know about the other athlete that will make you a little queasy.

That player of your choosing and many others may shoot unseemly 77s or 79s for the opening round. After, you may find that one of them tweaked his back a couple of weeks ago, or he’s suffering from a sprained wrist or knee. But is that the truth? Is that what’s really ailing him?

With golfers, that’s one “fact” we’ll never know.

Written by dwil

April 4, 2007 at 2:27 am