Skins Game Your Take

By Mercer BaggsNovember 29, 2006, 5:00 pm
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
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    Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

    Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

    Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

    "Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

    "It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

    Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

    "I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

    "I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

    He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

    Getty Images

    Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

    Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

    Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

    What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

    Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

    Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

    Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

    Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

    Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

    Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

    Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

    Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

     Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

     Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

    ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

    NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

    In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

    Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

    Monday, May   28

    Individual   National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Tuesday, May   29

    Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

    11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday,   May 29

    Semifinals,   Team Match Play

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Wednesday, May   30

    Team Match   Play National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

    Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

    College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

    Getty Images

    Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

    By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

    Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

    Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


    Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


    Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

    While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: