Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pace of Play

Golf on television has never been wildly popular. Finding an audience that thrills to the sight of someone measuring a five-foot putt has always been a thankless challenge. Even Tiger, who single-handedly doubles ratings, can't lift them beyond a cooking show, and when he's absent they instantly plunge right back to the bottom of the pool.

Which is why I ask, can the PGA survive Jim Furyk? 

I'll say it for the record. I like old Jim. I admire the strange swing, the slightly grouchy demeanor, and the grind-it-out workingman's approach to the game. He shows up, goes about his business with a minimum of antics, and regularly finishes at or near the top of the leader board.

But this routine that has him eyeballing a putt from both sides, caddy swapping positions like a dance partner, then standing over the ball as if ready to hit it, then stepping away and repeating the entire choreography, then addressing the ball again and then waiting . . . waiting . . .

Excruciating is not too strong a word. Paint dries with more inherent entertainment value. You can almost hear the network pulling out their dwindling gray hairs, the 60 Minutes clock ticking, as he waves his putter three, four, five times beside the ball, seemingly summoning the courage to actually put it in motion.

Tiger's brief self-imposed exile comes to an end in a mere seven days. The unsavory questions will inevitably flow and the camera will, as it does whenever he is within a mile of a tournament, remain on him whether or not he's in contention. And however painful that strange fascination may be, remember, it could be worse.

And please, Jim, could you pick it up a little?

Die Happy
by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.