Da Game & Maui Golf Review are offering Hyundai TOC “no mo” coverage of its non-event.

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I arrived to see the conclusion of the third round of the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua and part of my mission was to get a PGA Tour media official to ‘fess up’ and tell me why our Da Game Show cast and crew was unable to be credentialed to cover the event. After all, I had Maisie and Dave Ward in shock at how poorly we were treated as media! This was yet again another in a series of snubs that have been going on since I started the Maui Golf Review in the mid-’90s. Kapalua just has this attitude that if they aren’t controlling you with a bullwhip, telling you what to say and how to say it, at all times, then they want none of it. Everything is glossed over and made-for-TV. If you aren’t as glamorous and stunning as they want you to be, they’ll let you know it, and with me they do, in spades. What kind of an event is this? Whatever happened to straight up talk about what’s going on, how the conditions are, how the greens and course is set-up, what is the big story?

According to Karin Sagar, Kapalua’s VP of marketing, it was the Tour’s call to snub our TV show and my camera skills all in one fell-swoop. It was not hers or Mark Rolfing’s she said, and while I fond that hard to believe, I roll with the flow.

So, when I got to the media room that day, I wanted to hear it from the horse’s (PGA Tour’s) mouth and I wanted it for the record.

Well, turns out that we just didn’t make the cut this year, according to Doug Milne, the Tour’s communications manager, who went out of his way to tell me that it wasn’t a Rolf or Kapalua call, it was the Tour’s and that’s it. He was covering their asses, I get that. But what was really upsetting was his constant reminder of how the Tour’s legal motherlode would be dumped on me if I didn’t shut my face and get out. That my dislike of this crappy treatment was “most unfortunate” and that I’d “regret” voicing my feelings on the matter.

Of course, I’d later have an nice chat with another Tour Media official whom I’ve known for 20 years who roared with laughter when I told him this story. “Are you kidding,” he grinned over his glass of Chard at the Hali’imaile General Store just after the Skins Game at Kaanapali. “I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous, of course Kapalua was making those calls. How on earth is the Tour going to know one local media guy from the other without their input?”

Figures.

While I always felt Karin or Mark could have easily parted the waters for me, they just didn’t. What a joke! Frankly, the event is really not about golf anymore. It’s about the people who enjoy the party for that week: the players, their families, the car company gets to schmooze its dealers. By the time you shake out all the numbers, even if no one (except for the very few diehards who can tell you the entire schedule from memory) gives a rat’s ass about this time, it really doesn’t matter. It breaks even or gives sufficient ROI for the major investors.

That’s why they don’t care about whether or not we cover their event. That’s why the bleachers are always so empty. That’s why this is such a non-event even after they essentially drove away the real star power with their snooty attitude, nobody cares. The party goes on, for those who are throwing it, and the rest of you pions be damned!

I’ll never forget how demeaning it was in that media room, and how much I didn’t want to even be there. “Can I have a photo pass,” I asked? It has only been 16 years that I have been doing this… Hell, I’m a dues paying member of the Golf Writer’s Association of America, isn’t that worth anything? I won the 2008 American Advertising Federation District 13 Addy Award (called a Pele in Hawaii) for photography, isn’t that worth anything? Apparently not enough to get me inside the ropes with a camera! “Nope.”

It was outside the ropes, the back of the bus for fat boy. A classic snub. Why was I here? Oh, yeah, right: for you, the golf fan who can’t be here to watch the event, eh? Please, what can I do with a camera that you can’t see five times better on TV? Well, I can give you some perspective, I am online and in print locally and if you miss the thing you can read about it here, so I guess there is some value.

So, I pushed to get our fledgling TV show star host Dave Ward, and news anchor Maisie Ramage passes. No go. I tried to get a photo badge to get inside the ropes, to get you some great shots: no go.

Yes, I would have liked to have gotten closer with my camera, and as I own a golf magazine on Maui and work full-time to promote the game here you’d think it wasn’t a stretch, but it isn’t my show, it’s theirs, so if you’re wondering why Steve Sticker looks like an ant, it’s because I wasn’t able to get any closer 🙂

I skulked out of the media room and was determined to put the credential thing out of my mind. I wanted to just get a feel for the event’s ambiance so I could share that with anyone who cared. What else can or should I be doing? After all, the Tour, Golf Channel, the Maui News—all are doing straight reporting. I’m no reporter. But I can render some perspective, which is what I’ve been trying to do for the past few days, and have done for many years.

Years ago, a great guy named Ray Mains used to drag himself up here to shoot the event for pay. Then they got cheap and stopped paying him. They also did not give me any support so I couldn’t afford to pay him either. Ray would come here, year-after-year, with his $6000 lenses and expensive Nikon bodies, and shoot his eyes out for us to publish one or two images in the magazine, and perhaps more online. We had content. Now, Ray isn’t doing it anymore. He’s probably fed up with the cheap and really disrespectful people here in Kapalua.

I don’t blame him.

So, being unable to get within range to shoot any real player photos, because the Tour wouldn’t give me decent access, was infuriating. Not even worth the drive here from Kula I must confess. Yet, I decided to hit the almost completely empty bleachers and sit with the few other spectators that were there and see what it was like anyway. I took a few shots, and then watched as Stricker converted his birdie putt on 18. Ho hum. Okay, that’s enough.

I headed toward the exit. I had had enough of this place. In fact, I decided right there I won’t ever waste my time here at this event again. The people here are so full of themselves it makes me want to barf, and it’s just not that exciting to watch what amounts to a bunch of car dealers rubbing noses with a rather embarrassingly small and arrogant group of spoiled cry baby second stringers—especially when compared to the likes of Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus, two golfers who have always shown an easy a smile and offered a firm a handshake to Mauians—I just don’t see the point…. Frankly, you’re better off watching the football….

 

John Byrne
John Byrne
Founded the Maui Golf Review in 1995.
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