Larry Dorman reports on the USGA's latest attempt to capture a younger audience. Gosh it's fun to watch people desperately try to capture the youth audience at the behest of advertisers. Especially when we're talking about a non-profit organization. Touching I tell you.
A one-hour taped show, which NBC will broadcast June 15 as a lead-in to the final round of the 2008 United States Open, will feature a foursome of amateur golfers with varying handicaps, all attempting to shoot a score lower than 100 on the Open setup at Torrey Pines Golf Course.Right, because the 6-hour telecast isn't enough.
“We’re very excited about this,” said Jon Miller, the executive vice president of NBC Sports. “If this does well, as I have every reason to believe it will do ratings-wise, it could become an annual event that we put in front of the Open every year on Sunday.”
Still, the idea is fun. Four Average Joe's slugging away on the year's U.S. Open course and...oh, wait...I'm sorry, you said what?
To help ensure good ratings,
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light, you don't have to put on the red light...
three of the amateurs, to be chosen by Golf Digest editors and NBC, will be “celebrities,” highly recognizable faces from television, the music world or professional sports. The remaining participant, representing millions of amateur golf dreamers, will be selected from a field of finalists culled by Golf Digest editors and voted on by the magazine’s readers.Wow. Now you want to talk about bend...ah forget it. Shoot, if we're lucky, maybe Kenny G or Celine Dion will be the celebs? Or both? They could even stick around and do a U.S. Open opening ceremony and if we're lucky, medley of their greatest hits backed by John Tesh conducting the Escondido Upward Bound Senior Citizens Home Symphony?
The format: 18 holes over more than 7,600 yards, inside the ropes, from the back tees, in front of a live gallery, with NBC cameras recording every shot and the golfers writing down every stroke.
The round will take place June 6. A U.S.G.A. rules official will accompany the foursome.
Hey, Walter Driver could officiate and show how he types 60 words a minute, all while reading Goldman Sachs emails and issuing a rules decision at the same time. All brought to you by Blackberry.
“Strict rules of golf,” said David Fay, the association’s executive director, quoting the character Auric Goldfinger from the classic 1964 James Bond movie. But of course.
Fay’s cinematic reference, though dated, is appropriate. In looking for ways to update its rather elitist image, the U.S.G.A. is reaching out to different audiences. It has made inroads in recent years with its addition of public golf courses to the Open rotation. Bethpage Black began the trend in 2002, and with Torrey Pines in 2008, Bethpage Black again in 2009 and Pebble Beach in 2010, the Open will have been played at courses accessible to the public four times in the first decade of the 21st century. With this collaboration on a golf reality show leading into the Open’s final round, the U.S.G.A. has further loosened its tie.
Oh, the kids will flock to this. I bet they get at least 5 new members under 50 out of this.
“I’m sure some people will raise their eyebrows and say, why are they doing this?” Fay said.
Why would we do that? It's perfectly in line with the direction you've got the organization headed in David! Right down the toilet...
“To me, the operative word is fun. Sure, it will be interesting and educational, and it will allow people to get some insight into the U.S.G.A. and give us a chance to connect on a different level. But I actually think it’s going to be a hoot.”
The whole idea began with a laugh. Tiger Woods was having a light moment with reporters after the second round of last year’s Open at Oakmont, saying, “If you’re a 10-handicapper, there’s no way you’re breaking 100 out there; if you played all out on every shot, there is no way.”
Woods’s statement gave Steve DiMarco, a Los Angeles writer and director, the idea for the show. He bounced it off a friend, who liked the idea. Then he passed it to Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest’s chairman and editor in chief, who talked to Fay, who talked to NBC’s Miller.
Gosh, if we could only think of a reality show that deals with slow play, we might persuade these heavyweights to do something that's actually for the good of the game.