Greetings From LA, Wrap-Up

greetingsfromLAThe way the guys are driving the ball and the 15-year Golf Channel deal were the two most frequent topics of discussion last week.

On the distance front, it's fun to hear folks who shrugged the issue off a few years ago now finding themselves startled to see where the guys are hitting it, how little rough matters and how rarely "shotmaking" occurs anymore. Apparently with time to ponder the ramifications, many who are around the Tour regularly appear to be realizing the same thing that got my attention on the issue: the impact on courses and pace of play. 

No. 2's ShotLink Accuracy stats for the week (click to enlarge)
It may seem somewhat sad that the distance issue gets noticed in part because of the press tent location at Riviera. But hey, it's something.

Situated on the "practice fairway" between the 1st and 2nd holes for five or so years now, the tent finds itself in play off the 2nd tee.230136-276878-thumbnail.jpg
A player hits his 2nd shot on No. 2 after getting relief from the press tent (click image to enlarge)

It was one thing to see a drive on No. 2 reaching the fairway bunker that Thomas certainly never meant to be in play from the tee. And each year there have been more and more drives equidistant to the media center, but those drives were in the fairway. Now offline drives are almost reaching the press tent some 320 yards off the tee, forcing many players to take line of sight relief.

The other distance eye-opener at Riviera: the 10th now plays like a long par-3, with all groups waiting to tee off until the green clears. On Saturday, groups were waiving up the players behind them.

Throw in the fact that the par-5 11th is reachable for a player in nearly every group, with No. 17 almost as reachable in two for the long bombers, and you have three back nine holes where there is a whole lot of standing around.

So for the second year in a row, the PGA Tour was unable to get all 144 players finished the first two rounds due to slow play. 

The other subject that you'll start to see getting more scrutiny: The Golf Channel and its 15 year deal with the PGA Tour.

It was fascinating how many conversations drifted to the astounding length of the contract, the failure to include ESPN to maintain a SportsCenter presence and the lack of time The Golf Channel has to take its production values up several notches.

The consensus: TGC is going to have to start offering pay comparable to other television outlets, something it has so far been reluctant to do. And they are going to have to do it quickly.