The core golfer consternation that is celebrity golf was tackled by Morning Read's Gary Van Sickle. He misses the days of Burt Lancaster and even fears the day Bill Murray stops showing up.
Van Sickle writes:
The corporate executives far outnumber the celebrities in the pro-am these days. I don’t blame CBS for shamelessly hyping these execs; they know where their bread (pun intended) is buttered. But I don’t have the patience to watch rich guys in whom I have no vested interest chopping it up and seeing Phil Mickelson hit one shot every 12 minutes, then waiting for Peter Kostis to analyze some schlub like Huey Lewis and his god-awful swing on the Konica-Minolta Biz-Hub Slo-Motion Marlboro IBM Messerschmidt Action Cam.
House and I kicked this around on ShackHouse yesterday and I believe we have separate issues: only getting one day of pure tournament golf on the PGA Tour's best course, and CBS's approach to the telecast.
We all want to see more Pebble Beach, but the format is well known and won't be changing. Reconcile yourself to this tradition unlike any other. Many casual fans seeing celebrities play golf--at least they ones they've heard of. For every Gary Mule Deer there is a Justin Timberlake, Mark Wahlberg, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers who put their games on display in what is, for them, a difficult stage compared to their day jobs. (Full celebrity list here.)
The bigger issue plaguing the AT&T National Pro-Am arrives with the coverage. Namely, who CBS chooses to cover, how little their golf broadcast model has evolved and a sense that change is bad. As the tournament has added younger celebrities and more athletes, the broadcast feels almost the same as it did 20 years ago (except for some new voices, HD, some Trackman and snippets of jaw-dropping drone shots). In an event where it is impossible to please all, CBS pays a price for excessive coverage of certain CEO's and other friends of the network.
Would a fresher take on the coverage help? Of course. One of the most visually stunning venues on the planet deserves to be shown off more with those mysteriously seldom-used drone shots, while more sound from group conversations would bring viewers closer to the action.
Perhaps the only way to please core fans would be a PGA Tour-only feed on another channel, allowing CBS to actually cover the celebs, athletes and suits in more depth and in different ways.
None of this is likely to happen under the current television contract, so the polarizing event will march on. But it doesn't have to be that way. And hey, at least we get to see Pebble Beach!