"But the community felt they would much prefer to be in the summer, so we worked with them on all the permutations. We already knew it could work in the time frame and told St. Paul we weren't in position to do exactly what they wanted to do to trigger their commitment. But when 84 Lumber stepped aside, they were the first port of call and everybody got excited."
I am sure there is no body of professional games players who so cheerfully know so little of the rules of their game as do professional golfers.
Sal Johnson recaps the end of ABC's run televising golf, which reminded me that the new TV deal was analyzed in far greater depth here than probably necessary. So instead of rehasing the coverage, I thought it would be fun to dig up the best things said and written about the PGA Tour's 15-year commitment to The Golf Channel.
In the Writer Division, we have a tie between Golfweek's Rex Hoggard, who wrote...
Fifteen years? That's not a TV contract, that's alimony.and Golfobserver's Frank Hannigan wrote...
For the Tour to find and command a new audience would require a freakish event like a hermaphrodite dwarf becoming leading money winner. And it would help if the dwarf's caddie could be Anna Nicole Smith.
In the Player Division, Fred Couples summed things up nicely when he told Golf World's Bob Verdi:
"I don't understand the new TV deal. We signed for 15 years with The Golf Channel? Isn't there a number between one and 15? Did the NBA sign for 15 years with TNT? How'd we lose ESPN? I also don't get that. What if ESPN decides in three years they want golf again? What does the PGA Tour tell them? Sorry, we're with The Golf Channel until 2021?"
And in the Commissioner Division, I was partial to this subtle but beautiful justification from Tim Finchem to explain the loss of ABC, ESPN and ESPN on ABC:
Number one is that we have a streamlined set of relationships with NBC and CBS having all the weekends. It really relaxes and reinforces the continuity we can now provide to our fans.
When Hootie Johnson took his leave of Augusta National this year, we lost one of golf's bigger egos. As the man who had most to do with the scarring of Augusta National - once one of the game's most interesting and strategic layouts; now almost just another course with rough, water and trees - Johnson's retirement is welcomed wholeheartedly here at Huggy HQ.Okay, you put it that way. But he gives such good press conference!
The "Plonker of the Year" kind of shocked me:
Having previously had nothing but pleasant conversations with the young Englishman, the journalist approached thinking a brief 20-minute chat would be no problem. But it was.Funny, I had a lovely 10 minute on the record chat with Casey on the range at Sherwood. Could not have been more delightful!
His face darkening by the second, the Sassenach announced that the scribe should "talk to my manager". Three days and five phone messages later, the manager deigned to call back and to say there was "no chance" of even the shortest sit-down with this new "star."
Sadly, even fleeting success can do this to people, but it is a shame when it happens to what appeared to be one of the good guys. So it is that the final Huggy of 2006 goes to World Matchplay champion Paul Casey who, having become the first man to finish off a Ryder Cup match with a hole-in-one, has very quickly become terribly big for his spikes.
Then again, maybe this new-found arrogance isn't really so new.
Relating the above tale to a friend, said journalist commented that Casey was "suddenly very important, in his own mind at least". To which a passing player, another Englishman, added, with some feeling, it must be said: "It isn't sudden."
Oh, and my favorite award...
GOLF WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
Although this Huggy almost went to the often hilarious but sometimes inane principalsnose.blogspot.com, the winner is geoffshackelford.com.
Log on today if you want to know what is really going on in golf.
I know, I vowed never to complain about another list ever again. But Golf World's top 25 newsmakers of 2006 isn't as much a list as it is well, okay it's a list. And I think the warm fall went to the heads of the folks in Wilton.
Here are my gripes, because, you know, it really matters in the big scheme of life.
No. 24 Torrey Pines - actually, this was a great and surprising addition, setting up nicely what may become a huge story in 2007. (That is, the lousy state of affairs at the 2008 U.S. Open site, starting with questions about course conditions.)
No. 23 Drug testing - Fine, leave it out of the top 20 even though you, Golf World did a stellar job last fall looking into this and Tiger made a bold statement that humiliated the Commissioner and further undermined his credibility. Okay, this is probably where it belongs until you see...
No. 22 Super seniors - Jay Haas and Loren Roberts dominating the Champions Tour? Top 100 maybe. But top 25? This is the Rich Harvest Links of Golf World's list. They're allowed one I guess.
No. 21 Hoylake's surprise - This was a surprise only because of Ron Whitten's misfire review.
No. 20 Hootie's departure - Come on, the man deserves top 10 status. His turbulent tenure certainly warrants a higher spot than...
No. 18 John Daly - A divorce, a reality show and losing his card does not make this newsworthy. This is simply another year in the life our favorite country crooner!
No. 14 The New TV Deal - Again, this one probably should rank a little higher considering what a huge story it was and will continue to be thanks to the FedEx Cup. This little bit from Stu Schneider's write up caught my eye:
TGC's hiring of Nick Faldo made positive headlines, but the "Why The Golf Channel?" questions still surround the contract, as do other rumors, including the existence of an "out clause" that the tour could exercise at some point.
Well, that would certainly make the 15-year commitment look less ridiculous.
And finally, the ultimate you have to be kidding me...
No. 11 Camillo Villegas
No. 10 Bomb and Gouge crowd
Guys and gals, did we make this list up in February? Villegas didn't win a tournament, Holmes disappeared after CBS crowned him the second coming of Christ and Bubba had a nice year. But Top 10?
Hey, at least the final 9 were spot on.
Alan Shipnuck pens a brief look at the year and probably earned himself a case of PGA Tour wine for this incredibly kind nod to the Commissioner:
It's more fun being a piñata than commissioner. Both Tim Finchem and Carolyn Bivens have had brutal years, taking flak from disgruntled players, mystified reporters and angry sponsors. On the bright side, you can chalk a lot of this up to growing pains that are the result of a former boutique sport straining to carve out a bigger place in the sports firmament. Both tours are positioned for big years in '07, though.