WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

No. Only a white punk on dope would argue to an audience of golf lovers that there is too much golf on TV. Now, as we begin the fourth glorious year of debates, readers can finally understand the pathetic golf mind of what makes Timmy “tiny-brain” Geary tick.

Perhaps, the two main reasons “tiny-brain Tim” argues that there is too much golf on TV is that he’s a closet-loving NASCAR fan or he simply smoked too much herb in the 70s and 80s and it’s finally caught up to the narcistic, cranky baby boomer.

The power tools involved in watching golf on TV include a nice, big high-definition flat-screen TV with remote clicker, a lazy-boy-style recliner, spacious cocktail table to hold a three-plus hour supply of food and beverages, an I-Phone to check scores on www.pgatour.com of players who aren’t shown on prime time, and, of course, cable connection to the world’s best network – The Golf Channel.

According to the National Golf Foundation and PGA of America, over the past five years, players are defecting from the game due to expensive greens fees, outrageous pricing for private club memberships, five-hour rounds and lack of talent. Players might be playing less, but it is not being reflected in lack of interest in watching the sport on TV.

On Sunday, February 12, 2012, during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the Golf Channel scored its most watched PGA Tour round ever in the 17-year history of the network, beating the previously held mark by 25 percent. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage on that Sunday (1–2:30 p.m. ET) hit a 2.1 market share, which translates into 2,337,000 viewers. Prior to the national telecast on NBC beginning at 3 p.m., which also had record viewership, the coverage peaked at 2.9 percent, making this snowless winter day one of the highest-rated in televised golf history.

The final round coverage was highlighted by the pairing of Phil & Tiger. Mickelson started the day six shots off the lead – shot an impressive 8-under par 64 to win by two strokes over Charlie Wi. Even though Woods puked it around in 75 finishing T-15, he put an exclamation point that he is back and the TV masses never lost their appetite to watch the greatest golfer that ever played. Tiger’s enemies surfaced that week claiming “choke” but Phil has 40 career wins (4 majors) compared to Tiger’s 71 (14 majors).  Easy for me to figure who the better player is, not the more popular!

So this raises some serious TV golf questions: Are you tuning in to watch golf or to watch Tiger vs. Phil? Do you watch golf even when the two biggest names over the last decade aren’t in the hunt? Who watched Kyle Stanley earn his first Tour victory by beating Ben Crane by one shot the weekend before in the Waste Management Phoenix Open? Did you also flip on the Golf Channel on January 9 when Steve Stricker won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Hawaii?

If you answered yes, like I did, to any of the above questions, you may be addicted to TV golf! I love to watch the best players in the world do what they do best – shoot low scores – which is something I can’t do, no matter how many lessons or how often I try. My game may suck, but my desire to watch “live” golf on TV has never been higher.

Time to fess up a dirty little secret: for 17-years the Golf Channel has been my favorite channel. When the Golf Channel debuted in 1995, I remember harassing my local cable company weekly, asking when it would be available. Why did the Golf Channel ever get rid of Peter Kessler? Kessler was a walking encyclopedia of golf knowledge and he delivered golf history in a easy to understand style, with ground-breaking interviews. Dare we ask whatever happened to other talented TV golf journalists like Vince Cellini, Jim Kelly and Inga Hammond?

Just around the corner “ladies & gentlemen, boys and girls” as Sherm Fuller, former Red Sox public address announcer used to say, is the Masters golf tournament April 5-8. With the U.S Open, held in July ranking a distant second in TV golf viewership, the Masters is an annual TV ratings magnet for golfers and non-golfers as well.

Expect ESPN & CBS to offer “live” broadcast coverage from Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday April 5 and Friday April 6 from 4 – 7:30 p.m. with replay from 8 – 11 p.m. Weekend coverage, including the infamous, unprecedented back 9 on Sunday from 2 – 7 p.m. Total viewing hours exceed 30 for four days!

The Masters is TV golf’s highest ratings program and two-years ago Phil Mickelson’s swashbuckling, emotional finish turned in viewers with 14.1 percent of TV households, an all-time high ratings bonanza fro CBS. In the 500-channel universe of TV choices, this is unquestionably the Super Bowl of Golf.

Let’s unanimously conclude this debate once and for all, that “no” there is not too much golf on TV. Watching the Big Break is still a better choice than watching Dancing with the Stars, and Golf Central is far superior TV viewing than ESPN’s SportsCenter. And, that just maybe Tim Geary spends too much time watching those Genie Bra infomercials!  

(Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, International Network of Golf and Golf Travel Writers of America, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer currently in rehab for an addiction to televised golf.)

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?