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'Self-absorbed' golfers turning off TV viewers

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

In Australia, there is no Tiger Woods, only the shadow of Greg Norman.

Unfortunately for Aussie golf, that means declining crowds at Down Under golf tournaments and plummeting television ratings. Things are getting so bad in Australia, Ian Johnson, station manager for Channel 7 in Melbourne said the station may not renew its coverage of the major Aussie golf tournaments.

The problem? No hard-charging Shark. When Norman faded from the scene, so did Aussie interest.

Johnson said he agreed with the public perception that golfers nowadays are "boring" and "self-absorbed."

The only people who want to watch today's tournaments in Australia are aging males.

"The age group for golf is men in the 40s-plus age group," Johnson told Australian newspapers. "Actually, that's being a bit kind. There's a hell of a lot who are 50-plus. It means we have a dying audience."

Let's hope he means that figuratively.

Surprisingly, Australia's current hot player, Adam Scott, agrees with him.

"I know where they're coming from," Scott said. "I'm bored watching golf on television, no question about it."

Scott said golf broadcasters could do their part to liven things up a big, but laid a great deal of the blame on a lack of charismatic players. There is a perception of modern players as perfectionist drones who show little emotion on the course.

"It's a fine line - do you want to see us throwing clubs out there?" Scott said.

Well, yes, I for one would love to see that.

Scott also said the Australian situation, where golf audiences have dropped by almost 500,000 since 1997 - is relevant to the U.S.

"I've read a lot in America as well, obviously they're worried about their TV ratings over there, with Tiger not dominating like he was," Scott said.

Actually, that isn't precisely true. Professional golf in the U.S. is second only to the NFL in total TV viewership. Still, there are signs of trouble: the number of rounds played by all golfers over the last three full years has dropped, according to the National Golf Foundation, not exactly known for releasing figures that show U.S. golf has problems.

Woods: "I'm no Norman"

Speaking of Australian golf, Woods recently paid tribute to Norman, which Australian publications gave huge play to: "I tend to play pretty consistent golf, day in and day out, and I have never had the kind of game like Norman did," said Woods, who has shown recent signs of being back on track. "Norman would be six, five shots off the lead and just kind of not be playing well, then bang - 62 the next day."

Travel writers love their "freebies"

From the world of you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch-yours, we present this from the cozy world of travel writers and those places they write about, usually with must less objectivity than readers are aware of.

Asheville, N.C., has had great success marketing itself as a travel destination, with a huge boost from travel writers.

The city uses a tracking service to find out how much free publicity it gets from hosting travel writers - known in the business as "freebies."

In one year, it garnered an estimated $4.8 million worth of free publicity in freebies, roughly equivalent to what it would have paid to actually buy advertising.

"They (media) want someone who understands their needs, who knows what news is and what is not, and who can provide them with the information and materials they need to make a compelling story," Maria Tambellini of the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Hmmm, I wonder how much "bad" news Maria shuffles off to visiting writers. For some reason, I have an image of pre-war Iraqis leading UN weapons inspectors around by the nose, making sure they didn't look in the wrong places.

"There are places that I don't write about simply because it is so difficult to work with the tourism people," Karen Bartlett, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) from Naples who has written several articles about the city, told the same paper. "I would say (Asheville) gets a lot more publicity from me because of Maria."

Hey, it beats working.

You know, the British Open winner...

Johnny Miller may have blasted hybrids as being for weaklings and those with no skill, but that doesn't keep us weaklings with no skill from buying them.

Florida-based Golf Datatech found that hybrids made up about 14 percent of all metalwoods sold in July, an increase of 87 percent in market share in six months

Todd Hamilton won the British Open, partly because of long chips with a hybrid made by Sonartec. Hamilton used the MD Transition made by Sonartec, which accounts for about 60 percent of those sales. Sonartec has made a ton of money since Hamilton's win, but couldn't use his name in marketing efforts, and had to refer to him as the "British Open winner" because he wasn't under contract to them.

Only in America.

Odds and ends

All those "best" lists by magazines are becoming an industry unto themselves. Every club that draws anything from No. 1 to an honorable mention floods the wires with press releases, hawking their inclusion.

And lastly, the most reported golf story of the month? No, it wasn't Vijay Singh's winning player of the year, Woods' maybe-comeback or any of that boring stuff. It was the story about the St. Augustine, Fla., woman who ran over the teenagers who accidentally hit her car with a golf ball in a parking lot. Media from around the world loved that story.

They should get the old bat to do commentary during the next telvised tournament. At least she's got personality.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • boring

    Pat Brockwell wrote on: Jan 3, 2005

    While TV golf can be critisized I'm thinking that if everyone is watching TV they're not out playing. If I'm going to blame let's look at boring golf courses and boring management styles. We're still not making much progress on slow play and crowding is still an oft heard complaint along with high pricing. Courses need to manage play by helping people find balls and moving slow groups up to forward tees or skipping a hole altogether. I played a course that when it got slow the "Players Assistant" came and told us to take our time and not be in a hurry. He said the important thing was for us to just relax and enjoy ourselves. A five and a half hour "experience" isn't going to fix a thing.


  • BORING!!!

    David Zaifert wrote on: Dec 28, 2004

    I'm afraid I have to agree. I never missed a tournament a few years ago, taping and replaying later when necessary. With the commonality of golfers on tour now, (except for a few tournaments), it's like watching reruns on a weekly basis. As far as fewer golfers on the courses; some of them need to be off. However, I haven,t noticed much change in scheduling on courses. We're still crowded into 7 minute tee times w/20 minute players.


Simply select where you want to play, find a tee time deal, and golf now!