It’s now December (and Verne Lundquist is signing off for the last time and will be missed by everyone), and unlike last year, the weather isn’t going to be conducive to any mid-month golf in spring/fall dress. So your golf fix is largely going to be televised. This coming weekend is the Franklin-Templeton Shootout which ends on Saturday (Golf Channel had the Thursday-Friday coverage and Saturday coverage went over to Fox). So just when you thought you were done with Fox and their golf coverage…you’re not (in a perfect world Fox would just use the Golf Channel crew but we can’t have nice things, so there’s that). However, Joe Buck was not there. Whew.
While we’re talking about this tournament, Lexi Thompson is playing with Bryson Dechambeau and his sidesaddle putting stroke. Which made me wonder? Why not just pair up an LPGA pro with a PGA Tour pro? Let them choose up sides if you want, or even better, have a fantasy draft! You’re telling me Golf Channel wouldn’t air this live? They’d air it live and run it back several times over. The NHL All Star Game did this (starting in 2011; since discontinued), which gave us this bon mot:
I’m a died-in-the-wool Leafs fan and I still don’t know what the hell this was. You can’t not watch but you can’t turn away.
What I’d do is have the guys seated, and draw a female player out of a hat. She comes on stage, and picks her playing partner. I’d allow trades (make the rules up as you go along-mostly to give the USGA an aneurysm). Drinking? Oh HELL YES. Talking trash? By all means. I’d have all the players miked up. Similar to what they do now, I’d play 2-man best ball two days, and a shamble the other day. Have the women tee off a bit closer (7-8%). Oh, I’d let them ride in carts. With music. The point is that it’s supposed to be fun.
So that’s problem #1 solved.
If it’s December, it also means that Golf Channel is in filler mode once the silly season events end (I’d expect that counter for the start of the PGA Tour season to be up any day now). For the remaining two people who get Golf Channel and haven’t seen the edited-for-TV versions of The Trinity (that’s Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and The Legend of Bagger Vance), December is your lucky month. I’m not remotely kidding. I had a weird dream last night (and I have a lot of them) that someone decides to turn Tin Cup or Caddyshack into something similar to what Rocky Horror Picture Show is or The Big Lebowski (I’ve seen something similar at Lebowskifest, which was a tribute to The Big Lebowski). Look- if I can’t get someone to play Judge Smails, Lacy Underalls or Danny Noonan, than my faith in humanity is for nothing. Note to anyone from Golf Channel: if you’re reading this and you’re not thinking about it, pour another tumbler of bourbon and think about it some more. You could put this on tour and people would come, Ray. People would come.
But more to the point is this…we need a new silly season event. It came to me a few weeks ago, when after a long night of drinking (that’ll be enough judgement from you) I was watching ESPN Classic and the 70’s show The Superstars was on. Take a bunch of professional athletes from all sports and let them compete in a bunch of silly events. TV magic! Arthur Ashe playing golf (see above). Reggie Jackson swimming! Roger Staubach riding a bicycle! Short-shorts, and the likelihood of there being off-camera drinking at about 99%.
This got me thinking (as often happens when I’m watching TV and I’m half in the bag). If you ever see me half in the bag with a steno pad and a pen, it’s a good time to be marginally worried. We know that pro athletes love golf and many are really good at it (and a lot of NFLers are very good). We also know that, in the 21st century, golf is one of those rare activities teams don’t mind players participating in. So then I started thinking about something beyond a stroke-play event (NBC already shows a celebrity tournament from Lake Tahoe that features professional athletes, actors/actresses, and “other” celebrities).
But what about a team event? At first I was thinking about something where the Championship teams would play against each other, but then it dawned on me that this could be difficult to pull off. Then, much like that episode of Seinfeld when Costanza’s dad decides to bring back Festivus, it hit me like big shiny Festivus pole to the head- have teams made up of players from each league!
If you timed it right (say July) you would have 3 of the big 4 team sports in their off season (NFL, NBA, NHL). With 12 spots per team each league would have no problem finding willing participants (open it up to retired players if you want, or let each league pick 2 retired players to fill out their rosters). If you wanted to include baseball players you could go with former players (and there’s a fair few who are pretty good). Don’t want that? Fine- find some former Olympic athletes (nice cross promotion for NBC/Golf Channel) and call it a ‘Team USA’ or something. I’d have the players riding in carts and playing no more than 18 holes in a day (that should keep teams from concerns over health/safety). Play the tournament over 3 days; crazy idea here but do a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday dates. That means no overlap with PGA/Euro/LPGA/Champions events (honestly, how many repeats of the Final Round of the John Deere Classic do you need?).
Have a purse that goes to the Players Associations benevolent/emergency funds (or they can name a charity); very little work (I’m sure you could find a few willing sponsors to put their name on this) would get you a $200K 1st place, $150K 2nd, $100K third and $50K 4th place (that’s $500K total). If you were to sell tickets at $25 a pop (very reasonable) and sell 15,000 tickets TOTAL (5,000 per day), that’s $375,000 right there. Throw up some premium seats and the purse is more than covered and you haven’t even sold advertising, concessions, parking, etc.
Golf Channel could produce it and control the rights (file under “hey, look at this content we have”). Think about all those Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and how those get edited down…bingo. You could easily condense the final round into a 90 minute segment, which is wonderful filler.
How would this work, you ask? Simple.
Monday: 3-man shamble. Each “league” gets 4 groups (4 groups x 4 teams= 16 groups). Run a 2-tee start and things get going quickly.
Tuesday: 2-man best ball. Each “league” gets 6 groups. Put 2 groups together and it’s 12 foursomes. Again- 2-tee start to get things moving quickly.
Tuesday night: After two rounds, the team that’s in first plays the team in 4th, and the team in 2nd plays the team in 3rd in 9 holes of match play. Teams submit orders. Team that finishes first picks if they want to play the front 9 or back 9. 2nd/3rd match plays the other 9 holes (so things move quickly). Ties settled by sudden death playoff by teams picking one player from their 12.
Wednesday: Teams play 9 holes of match play in the morning (just like the Ryder Cup; 12 singles matches). Teams that win those matches play back 9 in championship match. Tied after that? Anchors (guys who went out 12th) play sudden-death playoff.
Think about the effort they put into the old Tavistock Cup; with a replication of effort they’d be able to put together a decent event and they’d have something they could re-air later in the year. Not that the odd showing of one of The Trinity isn’t enjoyable, but we’re approaching Law & Order rerun territory, folks. Don’t suppose you’d run that Perfect Club Infomercial again?
Where to hold it? Not sure it matters; off the top of my head I’d say either the West Coast (California), or somewhere in the Great Lakes area (Michigan/Traverse City area, Kohler, etc.). I’m saying no on Vegas because it gets ungodly hot in July, but if that would work then by all means go for it. Play it at night under the lights if you want to!
Song of the Day
I heard Nice as F**k on SiriusXM a couple months ago. If you can get past the NSFW name, the song is great. Everything a pop song should be. Have a listen. Nobody will tell.