*First World Problem warning alert* (especially given the day's news)...
“It was a Saturday that felt like a Sunday… Outside of Carnoustie in 1999, this felt like the toughest major championship that I have seen since going back to the seventies. Nothing like the major championships we have seen as of late.”
Other than the silly green speeds--a big departure for the PGA of America--everything else about Saturday's sluggish PGA Championship repeated issues from the past:
--Too many commercial breaks and promos creating a difficult-to-watch-broadcast, an annual issue that dates to the PGA's unbreakable contract with TNT and CBS. The deal expires in 2019.
--A super-difficult setup that created little sense to a general fan that golf is actually interesting, fun and good sports viewing. Kevin Kisner is to be commended for navigating his way around and setting up a potential dream win. But Jordan Spieth's comment about holes cut on spots was particularly distressing if true. Granted, when greens are 14 on the Stimpmeter, it's hard to find flattish spots. Still, this is chintzy but not unprecedented in the world of tournament golf:
Jordan Spieth on the difficulty of the pin positions and making putts: pic.twitter.com/dFcQWPZs7Y— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) August 12, 2017
Fowler also noted this issue but also defended the actions as part of a typical major setup:
Rickie Fowler on the pin placements: "I mean, it's a major championship." pic.twitter.com/owx99dLTMm— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) August 12, 2017
--Turner's dysfunctional PGA app. At the request of many of you, I thoroughly tested the PGA app Saturday and can concur on all complaints about it freezing, crashing and replaying ads constantly each time you have to restart a stream. Why an advertiser would want to be associated with this issue, which seems to be many years in the making now, is beyond me. (Tip for cord-cutters watching Sunday, users reported solid experiences with the CBS Sports app). The website aesthetics and functionality are also very substandard compared to what we get with other golf events.
--Pace of play. 5.5 hours will not grow the game, even if it was heat-related as some players claimed, though Quail member Webb Simpson blamed the setup (Menta/GolfChannel.com). Neither does a green rolling 14. The PGA of America's Kerry Haigh has long and most admirably resisted publishing Stimpmeter speeds because it sets a bad example. But host Johnny Harris has gotten his way this week to make this Augusta National of Charlotte, with much less architectural sensibility. The green speeds have overtaken the players as the tournament story. It's even more of a shame because they are so beautifully maintained and should be an important opportunity for the world to see a more sustainable Bermuda surface on display. But the superintendent doesn't cut the cups...
While most of these problems are not new and the media issues won't be fixed until 2020 with new contracts--and maybe presenting sponsors for limited commercial breaks--the subpar player and fan experience is a shame but hardly a surprise.