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Golf: The Unsport

On the John

By Johnny C. Ausiello

Darren I'm sorry.

O.K. now I can begin. I don't understand how anyone can sit down and watch the game of golf. I suppose if you have been a Braves fan for the past couple of years, having come so close just to see another disappointment, golf can help you unwind.

So Darren you are excused. But the rest of you need some explaining to do.

The Masters, or I should say the final five minutes of the Masters, are tolerable.

That playoff between Larry Mize and Seve Ballesteros a few years back (for specifics, you may want to call Darren, he probably has it on tape), when Mize hit that chip shot, was exciting.

I actually was glad I witnessed it. But I wouldn't put it in my top ten great moments as a fan. In fact, I'd place the Monster Truck Jam and Wrestle Mania VI, The Return of Hulk Hogan, ahead of any golf moment.

Simply put, golf is too boring to watch. Sure, the scenery is beautiful, and the players are talented. But you could say the same about Hawaian Cliff Diving. I don't see people huddling around the tube watching that sport.

Furthermore, as if the action wasn't boring enough, a prospective golf fan is forced to listen to annoying, whispering announcers. Isn't the point of commenting on an event to actually offer insights and thoughts on the competition? It's kind of hard when no one can hear you.

I know, some of you are snickering, "stupid, the announcers are on the course, they have to whisper so as not to distract the game."

Fair enough, but I respond with two points. Why the hell are they on the course? Put them in a booth like all other announcers. You don't see John Madden on the 20-yard line calling the game. Or Harry Carey set up camp behind home plate.

It's not that golf is so difficult a game to follow that you need an up-close-and-personal view to call the game.

After studying the wind from ten different directions, and debating between which club to use, the golfer hits a little dimpled ball. Then the announcer says, "Oh, he got all of that one," or something equally poignant and the ball lands. Why can't that be done from a designated press area far enough from the competitors?

It is not as if the proximity of the announcer to the action (is that the apt word for golf?) brings the viewer closer to the rowdy action in the stands. Which brings me to another point: Why is the game so precious that the players must perform under complete silence?

Can you imagine a basketball player turning to the ref and saying: "I'm sorry, I just can't concentrate on these free throws with all that yelling in the stands. Could you ask that deranged man in the crowd who's yelling obscenities about my family that I just don't appreciate it."

Sure, golf takes great concentration, but so do most professions. In baseball, the ball is actually moving, but they perform amidst screaming fanatics anyway.

But despite my complaints about the existing state of golf, it will, of course, continue to be shown on the tube--it is actually very popular.

So I suggest one mild change. The purists will never allow a change in the game. So spice up the coverage: throw Dick Vitale with Bud Collins behind the mike.

They'll make any sport interesting. Imagine it.

"OOOH, ahh, wow, did you see that drive, Dick?"

Sure did, baby. He got all of that one, baby. He's a P.T. player. Reminds me of that kid from Harvard, baby. You know, the one from Atlanta, who watches all the golf?"

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