End Game for Skins Game

By Mercer BaggsNovember 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
This past week was the 24th Skins Game. Perhaps it should be the last.
 
After nearly a quarter-century, it would appear that this annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition has run its course.
 
This years installment included a guy who finished 193rd on the money list, a guy who has one PGA TOUR win in the last eight years, a guy who is a member of the senior circuit, and a guy who many casual golf fans ' who this event was made for ' couldnt identify with his name on his bag.
 
Stephen Ames, Fred Funk, Fred Couples, John Daly
Do these four players make you want to watch the Skins Game?
I asked my wife, a casual golf fan, Saturday afternoon while watching the Skins Game if she knew who John Daly was. Obviously she did.
 
I asked her is she was familiar with Fred Couples. He usually wins this thing, she responded. How about Fred Funk? He won last year and had to wear a skirt.
 
Stephen Ames? Who? No. Should I?
 
And about two minutes later, she left the room not to return. I imagine that was probably a good representation of the general population.
 
There are several reasons that the Skins Game has lost its luster. For one, star power, or lack thereof.
 
When Tiger Woods five-year contract with Disney concluded last year, it also put an end to his obligation to this competition. Hes not likely to return, which means the loss of millions of eyeballs.
 
This problem that the Skins Game faces is the same problem that the PGA TOUR faces ' a serious deficiency in personality.
 
Daly and Couples have solid fan support, but they are not overly entertaining to watch on TV. Funk, who tried to inject a little humor on a couple of occasions over the 18 holes, is a really good guy who can pump up a crowd on occasion. But he's not going to steal away a football audience. And this was a great opportunity for Ames to gain some recognition, but, honestly, how many people really care about getting to know Stephen Ames?
 
So who would be a good replacement? The answer is nobody from the modern game, at least not from the mens side. The ladies might have some good substitutes, especially ' and forgive me if this sounds crass, but its true ' if you factor in sex appeal.
 
Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Lorena Ochoa might make for a highly competitive event, but it probably wouldnt get bigger numbers than a foursome of Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Sophie Sandolo and May Wood.
 
(How many of you are Googling Sandolo and Wood right now? Word of warning: Sandolos Web site contains partial nudity.)
 
Sex appeal, while beneficial to many womens sports, doesnt mean nearly as much in the mens arena. But what does is entertainment.
 
Todays game doesnt have a Lee Trevino or Chi Chi Rodriguez. Theres not even a Fuzzy Zoeller or Payne Stewart.
 
There is no flash. There are no showmen.
 
And there are no legends. No Arnold Palmer or Gary Player or Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson, like they had in the inaugural Game in 1983.
 
Today, aside from Woods, there is Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh and Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. These are your multiple major winners.
 
Maybe its just me, but I really have no interest in seeing any of these four players competing in a Skins Game. They are all very talented, but they are also all quite boring.
 
Its understandable, to a certain degree. I imagine it must be difficult to play to a crowd when you are playing for so much money.
 
And thats another thing thats wrong with the Skins Game ' even if its not its fault.
 
There is so much money on the line each week that playing for a million dollars in an event like this just doesnt present any Wow factor (Sixteen events on the 2006 PGA TOUR schedule paid their winners at least $1 million).
 
Back in 83, the total purse for the Skins Game was $360,000, which was huge money.
 
Player, Palmer and Nicklaus never earned that much in a single season in their TOUR careers. Nicklaus made $316,911 in 1972, but it took seven wins, including two major titles, to get to that number. And, prior to that inaugural Game, Watsons best financial season was $530,808 in 1980, when he won six times.
 
Player was the first Skins Game winner, taking home $170,000 ' or just $7,336 less than his richest TOUR campaign in 1978.
 
One more problem is the location. Each year, the event takes place at a non-descript course in California. Perhaps a change of venue ' to Pebble Beach or Pinehurst or Whistling Straits ' might help. Or even better yet, to somewhere like Bandon Dunes or Pine Valley or Seminole ' places youve heard of but probably never seen.
 
The Skins Game does have a few things going for it. Twenty percent of the money won went to charity and not into the players pockets. And ABC Sports did air a nice feature on J.T. Townsend, a young man who was crippled during a high school football game and has developed an emotional and financial friendship with Funk.
 
Then, of course, there is tradition. But a glorious past can carry an undesirable present only so far.
 
The Skins Game has hit a wall. In fact, it probably hit the bricks a few years ago. It just keeps stubbornly plugging along, trying to break through.
 
There are several reasons why the Skins Game should die a merciful death. For one more: Ames was the big winner this year ' now he has to be invited back in 2007.
 
Unless there is no 2007.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.