Cranky Coverage Coming?

First there was Tim Dahlberg's AP column. Then a salty game story by Bob Harig hinting at bloated-ego-player fatigue within the press ranks. Followed by the start of what will be many columns questioning everything about the FedEx Cup. And it was all capped off nicely by the Vijay being too busy to issue a few quotes about winning $10 million. Throw in the weird police lineup room at the Bellerive media center and what does it all add up to?

The press has seen enough of golf without Tiger Woods and they aren't liking what they are seeing.

Golf has morphed into men's tennis of the 90s. Too much power, too much money, too much indifference and too much emphasis on stars instead of the game's inherent brilliance.

Golfweek's staff says we're looking at "drab days ahead."  No, we're in for months of cranky, and at times downright ugly stories about the state of professional golf and the golfers themselves.

You may recall last week that I wondered what Deutsche Banks CEO Seth Waugh--a certified golf nut who is wired into the game and the corporate world but by no means is he a Wall Street drone--meant about the tour needing to fix its product.

I've since learned his views can be summed up this way: the players have lost touch with who is paying the bills. They are coddled, entitled brats (my words, not his). Some hint of Waugh's views came out in Golfweek's September 6th issue when he commented on Mike Weir's much appreciated appearance at a fundraiser for the John Mineck Foundation, calling Weir a "class act" and then noting, "There are a lot of guys who are like that. You can't take these sponsorships for granted."

Apparently many who follow and cover the tour are mystified that a bunch of guys who can't beat Tiger, who can't play in under 5 hours as a threesome and who can't top the Little League World Series in the ratings department, continue to act like entitled brats. From my own experience, it's getting harder and harder to talk to a player on the range unless you know him. Even though galleries are dwindling in size, it's tougher for kids to get autographs and pro-am rounds are getting less personal than ever (there's one prominent player who speaks perfect English, except to pro-am partners).

Outside of a handful of players, most of today's PGA Tour players just aren't very interesting or engaging. At least, based on what they chose to share with us.

Of course, this would not matter that much if the PGA Tour had not made stars the emphasis over the game itself. Yes there are small signs of life in the departments of course setup, TPC architecture and site selection (Ridgewood, Sedgefield), but the damage done by the distance race (slow play, tight fairways, high rough, injuries, boring golf) and the refusal to do anything about it is being felt: the PGA Tour "product" just isn't as interesting to watch as it should be. Power doesn't translate well to television, except on short par-4s. And it's little wonder why they've joined Tiger as the tour's most reliable draws.

I keep hearing people say the game will always be bigger than the people in it and that these tough times will pass. But as I devoted a book to the complete fire sale of the sport and the desertion of core principles that matter, I'm not so sure. It's hard to envision the folks running the game or those playing at its highest level to care enough to start doing more for the health of the sport. They've made their money and they're just riding it out, leaving the problems for someone else to fix.

The dwindling press corps is feeling pressure from several sides, and with less player cooperation, no Tiger to write about and a better understanding of how leadership has failed the sport, they are liable to start sharing some of the stories they used to sit on and asking tougher questions of the game's leadership.