The Free Dry Cleaning Was Neat

June/20/2012 16:19PM
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When asked about his amazing performance in the 2012 US Open Golf tournament, and what he found exciting, 17 year-old Beau Hossler, said, “the free dry cleaning was really neat.” As a golf fan who plays and watches a lot of golf, I agree fully with Beau. Besides watching Beau play better than most of the pros, a 14 year-old compete, and Casey Martin riding around in his cart, despite Jack Nicklaus’  objections years ago,  free dry cleaning would be an improvement.

The USGA and the PGA are responsible for the state of the golf business in this country and it couldn’t be worse if Barack Obama, who took a break from fund raising on Father’s Day to get in a round in Chicago, was running the golf business.

Having the best players in the world fail to break par is the USGA’s idea of good TV viewing. The Masters tournament, run by businessmen, has someone make a raft of eagles and birdies coming down the stretch for good golf drama. TV ratings for the US Open: 6.6% of US households, for the Masters: 8.1% down from 10.4% in 2011.

The government might as well be running the golf industry.  It’s steeped in tradition. Arnold Palmer put the sport of golf on the map. He made it a TV sport. It’s hard to watch a golf tournament in person. You can only see one or two holes at a time and two or three players at a time. TV keeps you up to speed on everything that happens on the course. Unless there’s 10 commercials, and a talking head is giving you some useless insight or historical fact you don’t care to learn.

Life has changed in America and golf is not changing. The next two generations behind me are not playing golf and fewer are watching golf on TV. Golf is run by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player in history, but a man who, given his preferences, would not change one thing to make the game better and more popular. He invented the 5 hour round, one of the biggest problems with the game. He also fought Casey Martin, a good player with a physical disability that wouldn’t let him walk 18 holes. When he asked for an exception to take a carthe was denied.  Logic, it was an unfair advantage. Let’s see, the man has one good leg, competitors have two, but a cart would be unfair. Steeped in tradition, no, steeped in stupidity. There goes a few thousand more golf fans.

Golf won’t change, and the game will continue to suffer. Fewer and fewer will play and fewer will watch. Courses will close. Kids today  play lacrosse, not golf. Who played lacrosse twenty years ago?

Nobody wants to pay to go watch bad golf played, or sit and watch it on TV, when they can watch the Heat and Thunder play. The USGA won and golf lost. Dozens of balls flying in traps, putts missed, and lay ups from the 2 inch rough are what the USGA wanted and got. Viewers went elsewhere. Especially after Beau dropped back.

Good leadership today is hard to find. Whether it’s golf or running this country. Things change in a heartbeat today and require recognition and action to accommodate changes. Making the country into a failed European Democratic Socialist model is not a good idea. It’s a lot like setting up a golf course so the best in the world can’t break par and expecting people to watch.



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