To Go Or Not To Go?

Listening to LA sports talk radio shows slam Pete Carroll over the decision to go for it on fourth down of yesterday's national title game, I got to thinking how rare it is in modern golf to have those essential do-or-die moments that are debated for days, weeks, or even years after. 

It should happen every few weeks. We're lucky if it happens once a year.

A reader told me today about watching Jack Nicklaus at Pebble Beach during the 1982 U.S. Open final round. Nicklaus was debating whether to go for No. 6 in two, concerned that he could not get the ball high enough to clear the hill that bisects the par-5. After an agonizing few minutes, Nicklaus finally decided to go for it. When he pulled his 3-wood headcover off, the crowd went wild.

How rare have those moments become when the player stands in the fairway, actually fretting and debating between a lay-up or go-for-broke shot as we fans debate the situation. How unusual are those memorable events (Curtis Strange at Augusta in 1985 and Chip Beck in 1993 come to mind) when the anticipation is so great that there is an emotional release from the crowd when a decision is made to go-for-broke?

It should happen a lot more in tournament golf, but sadly seems relegated to the times someone drives a par-4. 

Bland architecture is part of the problem, but mostly, the game is just played differently. With trajectory and questions of having enough distance so rarely part of the equation for today's player, we rarely see the golfing elite placed in that tempting, awkward, annoying but possibly rewarding situation that can make golf viewing so captivating.

Well, this rambling rant is just something to remember when you wonder why all of the questions here about the wonders of technology. Or if you wonder why television networks have trouble justifying an investment in televised golf, which just isn't the "product" it could be if the sport was in balance.