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Tiger Not Tour's No.1 Issue: Ames; The Spin on Grooves

Missing Tiger?

Missing Tiger?

Calgary resident Stephen Ames, known for his outspoken tendencies, apparently told Gord Holder at the Ottawa Citizen, that Tiger Woods isn’t the PGA Tour’s No. 1 issue — or at least that’s what the headline in the Montreal Gazette suggests and how Holder sets up his column:

Stephen Ames admits he has no idea when Tiger Woods will return to tournament golf, but the veteran pro from Calgary says the extended absence of the world’s No. 1-ranked player has little to do with the PGA Tour’s future.

Sure, Ames said Wednesday on the eve of the first event of 2010, commissioner Tim Finchem has his hands full, but those issues are connected to the economic recession and its impact on corporate sponsorships that are the tour’s lifeblood.

“A lot of it is ‘service,’ which is a big word right now in the industry that we are in, or any industry,” Ames said. “You have to keep the partners happy and (keep) the money people happy.”

 

Not quite clear that Ames said Woods wasn’t the main issue facing the tour — he just seems to think sponsorship and sponsor relations are a pressing matter as well.  I think the notion that other players “can pick up the slack,” is pretty optimistic, all things considered.

However, Ames argues other players can pick up the slack, and he says it’s up to the world media to do a better job of telling their stories. In turn, it’s up to all players to keep the tour’s boat afloat while waiting for the economy to rebound.

This year, that means 20 players who aren’t in the weekly pro-am will be required to make sponsor-related appearances during tournament week.

“There are a lot of players out here that don’t know how to deal with sponsors,” Ames said. “They know how to deal with people, but (they must work on) the kind of schmoozing and learn the ropes on how to deal with sponsors, especially the younger guys.”

I’d argue that pro-am appearances and generating huge television ratings are very separate things. The game needs buzz — and not about the latest supposed conquest by Woods. That could come through Rickie Fowler or someone like Rory McIlroy. But it isn’t coming through a pro-am.

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I spent a good hunk of my evening last night watching my PVR and the SBS last night. As always, Kapalua is a fascinating golf course — and pretty much unlike anything we see in televised golf. Wide fairways, plunging greens. Makes for good TV. What doesn’t make for interesting TV was the Golf Channel’s insistence on focusing over and over on the groove rule change. Is there anything less interesting than this? I mean if there had been examples on course, I might have been intrigued, but having Nick Faldo hit irons out of the rough in an attempt to demonstrate the difference between irons from last year and this year was dull and lame. Interviews with players indicated this was a wedge-only issue — but the GC also pointed out the golfers are so good that they’ll adapt. And I didn’t see any indication that anyone was altering their game to find more fairways.

Maybe Kapalua isn’t the best example for this — a narrower course with heavier rough will probably prove the point, if there’s one there at all.

I’m not the only one who found the emphasis on grooves made for dull TV. Ann Miller in the Honolulu Advertiser said the issue wasn’t “sexy” and she’s right. It is just dull.

Players also seem split on the impact:

I dont think the grooves are going to be that big of a deal, Chris DiMarco said. I think … the manufacturers are making golf balls thatll be just as good and react just the same.

For some players, the change means a new set of irons all the way down through their wedges. For others, its just the wedges, but those are still important parts of their games.

Well have to work on some things, said Shark Shootout co-champion Steve Stricker, who only is having to change out his sand wedges. Well get used to it over time. Depending on the player and how he actually makes contact or hits the ball is going to make a difference.

Ill be anxious to see the guys that really spin it hard, the Phil Mickelsons, theres more of a difference for them, Matt Kuchar said. They have better technique. They have more aggressive swings. It takes a lot of clubhead speed, which they provide, to get the ball to spin. (source)

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Rob

    Nice piece, but the the guy with the blowing hair piece is annoying with the constantly repeating wind sound effect. Make the Donald go quiet.

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