Arnold Palmer Invitational
0 6 mins 2 yrs

It was good to see the touring pros battle at Bay Hill in tough conditions during the Arnold Palmer Invitational. All of us amateur golfers know what it is like to come off second best with the course. It does pose the question, however, why are scores at other tournaments so low? We know that scores at US Open’s and Open Championships are, generally, miserly due to extremely tough set-ups. The honest answer is that professional golf is made for TV, with the networks demanding birdies and eagles to keep those watching engaged.

Touring Pro Golfers Made to Look Good

Golf is, as those of us who play frequently clearly know, a difficult game to play. There is no question that the touring professionals on the US PGA and World DP tours are the best on the planet. Similarly, the women playing on their tours are the very best. The golf courses, however, are not set-up to their toughest level every week on tour. This is why it is so unusual to see the pros struggling on the greens and struggling to score under par. The impression given most weeks is that these players are superhuman. Especially as the TV cameras predominantly show the putts that go in and the shots that are pulled off.

Elite Golfers’ Games Edited to Shine on Screen

Is my game too fat for me to play? Does my bum look big in this?

Golfers & Supermodel Pressures

Watching anything through the lens of TV gives a false perception of reality, as it is edited by those in the studio to narrate the story the director wants to tell. Amateur golfers can feel like all those girls and boys who compare themselves to photoshopped supermodels in the media. Equipment manufacturers are in league with this controlled presentation of elite golf because it makes their product look great. The manufacturers buy the advertising shown during the commercial breaks. They, also, sponsor the tours and players via bags and clothing branding. No other sport in the world is so aggressive in its promotion of equipment to those who play that sport. No other game has so much equipment to merchandise, with 14 clubs in the bag required to compete at golf.

Golf is a challenging game to play. It is played over a massive arena with an enormous variety of lies and geographical conditions. The golf course can be set-up to play harder or easier depending on the rough and speed of the greens. In addition, the weather can make it doubly more difficult via wind and rain. The golf course can make the golfer look silly and impotent in his or her ability to post a good score. In fact, the club golfer faces much more dramatic changes of green speeds during club championships than the pros. Greens, which go from slow to really fast are extremely hard to play for the club golfer and weekend warrior. It is wise to remember that professional golf is made for TV, especially when it comes to putting on fast, slippery slopes. Watching putts miss at Bay Hill on Sunday was a salve for this club golfer.

The media play a large role in the presentation of elite golf. It is behoven on them to communicate accurately course conditions to the watching public. Actually, what we get is hot air and sycophantic pump-ups by American commentators in particular. The golf media are almost all in the pocket of the tours and their sponsors. American media, more generally, is like this with little objective coverage of issues. The same corporations own the American media and TV networks. Golf is a game driven by vested interests and controlled in its presentation to the public. Golf is a great game to play, and we are lucky to be able to do so. More truth and less hype at the elite level would serve the game better.

Watching Gary Woodland go from making eagle on 16 to leaving his bunker shot in the trap on 17 and making double bogie I felt sick in my stomach knowing what that feels like. This is golf for the pros and for all of us average golfers. Missing makeable putts from short distance and taking too much sand in the bunker are all part of this rich broth which we call golf. Whether you are smacking your lips in contentment or dribbling it down your front the game of golf demands a lot from us. When the wheels start to fall off during the latter part of your round it is tough to hang in there and make good decisions. Golfing is both ball striking and strategic decision making. You have to get both right. One impacts upon the other during a round of golf.

By the way Scottie Scheffler won the tournament for his second victory on the PGA tour.


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