It's fascinating to see a change in media assessments of a tournament's entertainment value and the influence of a course setup. It wasn't long ago that a U.S. Open setup would have been widely praised for putting the flatbellies in their place and that players are spoiled brats. But after so many of these extra narrow, over-ripe setups driven by a desire to pump up scores, the review are pretty consistently negative.
Rob Parker in the Detroit News:
First, there was no Tiger Woods, a blow to any event when the best golfer on the planet can't play because of knee surgery.
Then, the rains came and went, and came and went. For sure, it felt like monsoon season, not August in Michigan. For the most part, fans were more occupied trying to dodge rain drops than watching nifty shots.
Those things, plus the weak economy in these parts, also kept the crowds down. No matter what attendance numbers were announced, it just didn't feel like a major. There was more buzz about the mayoral mess in Detroit than the play on the course.Dick Friedman at golf.com analyzes the Tiger effect on ratings, looks at several anecdotal signs of a rough patch for the game and notes that the PGA was a Nielsen disaster:
Harrington's thrilling victory on Sunday at Oakland Hills, the overnight rating for the PGA Championship was 3.0, down 55% from last year's final round at Southern Hills — an event won by (surely you recall) Woods.Mark Whicker was another member of the media who was glad it rained to save the setup.
So the '08 PGA lived up to the texture of the ones that preceded it. But the trend of "Tiger-proofing" golf courses has turned into "birdie-proofing," without slowing Woods a bit.
The drill is familiar. Length the courses and keep par at 70. The 18th hole, a 498-yard par-4 with a landing area that could barely accommodate a model airplane, played to a score of nearly 4.8.
But the mania for artificial length hasn't made these tournaments better.Alan Shipnuck highlights Cameron Morfit's talk with Steve Flesch and hits at this excellent point that came up a few times during the PGA: you think you can grow the game with course setups like this? Think again...
Flesch, a thoughtful member of the PGA Tour's player advisory council, expressed more far-reaching concerns for a pricey leisure sport that during this economic downturn is seeing more courses close than open and the number of participants and rounds played continue to fall nationally. He didn't quite accuse this PGA Championship of killing golf, but he came close. "If we're worried about attracting people to come play, if they see how miserable we are out there, why would they go, 'I want to play that game!'?" Flesch told Golf.com's Cameron Morfit. "It's fun to watch guys make birdies. They smile. The PGA is committed to growing the game; is this how they want golf portrayed?
"The thing that bums me out is I don't know how many of our top 15, 20 guys got chased out of here this weekend. Do you think that's the leaderboard the PGA of America wants up there when they're fighting the Olympics? How are ratings going to be this weekend? People are going to look at Charlie Wi, myself — I'm not saying anybody doesn't deserve to be up there, but people are going to turn around and go, 'Well I've never heard of any of these guys, let's see what's going on with the Olympics.' The PGA has got to be careful. They're getting what they're asking for, is what I'm saying."And finally, I missed it on the telecast but Tony Pioppi posts Peter Kostis' telecast remark about the narrowness of Oakland Hills. Kostis, on Rees Jones's work there:
"He didn't give you much option in the way you can play the golf course." Then later Kostis said something like, "he's taken away a lot of angles Donald Ross intended."