Skins Game Your Take

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If you want to rile up readers then write about Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie ' or a long-standing golf tradition.
 
My column this past Sunday on possibly putting an end to the Skins Game garnered quite a huge and emotional response from readers.
 
I knew that I was in for an interesting few days when one of the first e-mail responses I received began: What a condescending sexist blowhard you are.
 
Stephen Ames
Stephen Ames was the big winner, but ratings were down for Sunday's telecast.
That was from Eva Richardson in London, Ontario. She felt that my comments about adding sex appeal to entice viewers made me seem like well, well use her words: a real sleaze-bag chauvinist
 
Another issue some readers took was with my perceived bashing of Stephen Ames. Many believed that I was too harsh on the first-timer. My point was that the Skins Game is a made-for-television event, which is meant to attract the casual golf fan. The casual golf fan doesnt know Stephen Ames and he doesnt have the personality to make them care about him.
 
I have nothing against Ames. Hes a wonderful talent, but he doesnt have the name recognition or charisma to attract a television audience. And this is not a serious competition for the best players in the world; its a made-for-TV showcase.
 
While some defended Ames appearance ' Stephen Ames made us Canadians proud, said Mary Lewin ' many more, including golf enthusiasts, were not entertained.
 
I know hes a good player, but cmon ' how boring, wrote George from Kentucky.
 
San Franciscos Jennifer Alexander spent Sunday playing golf in the rain instead of watching the Skins Game. Glad I missed it, she said.
 
Surprisingly, Ames wasnt the player against whom most viewers took issue. Rather, it was John Daly.
 
Once a fan favorite who could be forgiven for all of his many transgressions; there seems to be growing anti-sentiment in relation to Daly. Readers berated him for his apparent apathy, his poor play this season, his obesity, and his many quips this past weekend about yet another divorce.
 
John Daly should be eliminated from consideration (for the Skins Game) forevermore!!! His alimony whining comments reminded me of being around junior high kids that never take responsibility for their choices, wrote Marcia Chaney.
 
Said John Lawson: John Dalys life is a train wreck. No taste ' no class.
 
John Huttenlocker suggested that we Move anything about John Daly to the NASCAR Channel.
 
All-in-all, the majority of people who responded felt like the Skins Game was well past its prime and already had one foot in the grave. But there was an opposing view, even if there werent quite as many of you who sat and watched with enjoyment this past weekend.
 
I watched it and found it to be a fantastic TV event; full of both great and poor shots and lots of good humour, wrote Dave Harris from Calgary, Canada.
 
'Don't try and ruin something that a lot of people enjoy!' said Bernie Gowen.
 
Judging by those of you in dissent of Mr. Harris and Mr. Gowen ' like Dan Hemauer from Wisconsin, who said, This event has exhausted all interest. The golfers are not funny or entertaining. The unbelievable number of ads make it even more impossible to watch. ' it wasnt that you necessarily wanted the Skins Game to go away altogether; instead, you wanted some serious alterations to be made in order to restore excitement.
 
And plenty of you had plenty of suggestions on how to make it better.
 
Art Williams from Pennsylvania wanted to get Faldo and Zinger out there.
 
Steve Olsen from Wisconsin suggested: How about three tour guys and an unknown, but very talented golfer like myself taking these guys on!
 
Many, like Jim Fredrickson, liked the idea of players putting up their own money: Make the event a $4,000,000 game with each player having to write their own check for $1,000,000 to enter, he said.
 
Others were in favor of moving the event to famed or exotic locales. Others believed that adding sex appeal ' maybe even having good looking tour wives team up with their husbands, suggested Steve Plyler ' might add a little intrigue.
 
And yet, still others believe, as do I, that the major problem is that there is a serious lack of showmanship in the game today. As Richard in Muncie said, there is a dearth of entertainers out there.
 
The PGA TOUR just does not have players with a great deal of personality ' at least not the kind of personality it takes to carry an event like the Skins Game. And, many of you agree, this most recent foursome was evidence of that.
 
Daly is getting tiresome to watch. Funks comedy routine is getting old, Ames I couldnt relate to, and Freddy had a nice swing to watch but after an hour that gets old, said Loren Peterson.
 
Others, of course, disagree. If you want star power go to a movie. Quit looking at faces and start looking at shots, said Steve Reaves from Charleston, S.C.
 
What needs to be remembered, however, is that this is not a regular event where the best man or woman should prevail because of their score, not their Q rating. This is a contrived event created for the specific purpose of entertaining an audience of people who both watch golf all the time and rarely watch it at all during a holiday weekend.
 
The Skins Game still draws the largest television audience during the Silly Season, but, judging by the numbers, people didnt watch as much this year as they did a year ago, when Woods and Annika Sorenstam joined Funk and Couples instead of Daly and Ames.
 
Saturdays telecast had a 2.3 overnight rating (one rating point equals 1,102,000 households), the same as it did in 2005. But Sunday drew a 1.6 rating, down from 2.7 the year before.
 
Most likely, the Skins Game will continue for a 25th year in 2007. And some will watch happily regardless of the foursome, some will watch begrudgingly, and some wont watch at all.
 
Id like to thank everyone who wrote to me in response to this previous column. I try to respond to as many as possible, and I appreciate everyones opinion ' even if you do think Im a condescending sexist blowhard.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Baggs: End Game for Skins Game