ESPN and the 16th hole at the FBR Open

Fellow blogger Jay Flemma put me onto this issue about the 16th hole, the notorious par three at this weekends FBR Open.
Interesting that as a way of pumping its telecast of this weekend’s PGA Tour stop in Arizona, ESPN has asked some pundits for their thoughts on the 16th hole, a par three which occasionally sports galleries numbering in the tens of thousands.
Apparently, according to Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker and Ron Sirak of Golf World, roudy, drunk galleries are good for the game of golf.
“It’s not only good for the game, it’s great for the game,” says Wacker. “The energy that places like the FBR Open — or the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2000 — create transcends the game and thrusts it into mainstream America. And that grows the game in an ancillary fashion. Of course there’s a fine line between being rowdy and downright idiotic. But you have to take the bad with the good.”
Better yet is Sirak’s comments (I’m ignoring the ESPN hacks, of course they’ll be positive about everything on the telecast).
“As long as they quiet down when it comes time for a guy to hit, what’s the problem? The game needs a little energy around it. And the only crowd control problem I’ve seen in recent years at a tournament was at the 1999 Ryder Cup — and it was created by people inside the ropes. ”
Oh, OK, so that guy with the gun following Tiger in 2001 wasn’t that big an issue, according to Sirak. Or that guy who threw the orange at Tiger. What about the stupid spectator who heckled Davis Love at last year’s match play. Or the ones who heckled Sergio? Or Monty?
Apparently those weren’t issues to Sirak.

Growing the game of golf is a noble concept. I just don’t think you do the game any benefit by growing it by attracting a crowd more at home tailgating at a Bills game.
Golf has a long-standing ettiquete, one some people will never understand, but which is important nonetheless. I just don’t see how rowdy crowds add anything to the game.
Of couse, I take golf seriously — and am never found drinking while I play. Golf is a supreme test of skill. When alcohol enters the picture, golf becomes a leisure pastime. I don’t want any part of that.

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Jeff Lancaster

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert, my sentiments exactly. I was disheartened and disillusioned by the egregious irresponsibility ESPN shows yet again. They just do not GET golf. One of them commented “You dont see people get quiet when Brady takes a snap, then clap politely when he throws a TD pass.” Memo to ESPN – Golf is not football. We conduct ourselves with a modicum of self respect and dignity…it does not equate to being an elitist snob. In short, go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re fully stocked. Maybe instead of dumbing down our game, you should elevate yours…for example, I notice your co-branded Zagat’s golf guides are not exactly flying off the shelves…could it be the entire golf world agrees that 5 of the top 11 public courses in the country are not in NYC…like too many of your readers who are looking to do a homer? Oh well…I’m sure you’ll just keep putting nickname boy Berman in the tower at 18 at the US Open and coo all over John Daly no matter what he does next cause its just “Big John being Big John…the great unwashed are too dumb to notice or know any better…or think for themselves. Big media…racing to the bottom. Not on my watch and not at my course.

  • I can’t recall if I saw it on ESPN or the Golf Channel, but a correspondent interviewed Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, and one or two others about the 16th hole, and they all towed the company line as well saying, “it’s great as long as they quiet down when you are getting ready to hit.” Did they not show any pros who disagreed because they couldn’t find any (highly unlikely) or because they chose not to (more likely)?

    In my opinion, it’s kind of fun to have a hole like that on tour. But once it goes beyond that, I agree, the game becomes dumbed down.

  • I wonder how Kevin Na feels after being paired with hometown favorite Phil Mickelson, and getting booed heavily for hitting the 16th green in regulation? Of course, I’m sure that had nothing to do with his first three putt of the tournament.

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