Tuesday is only option as winds cause Sunday stall

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Without 54-holes to decide a champion, the PGA Tour’s season-opening Tournament of Champions will show a blank for 2013 on its sterling trophy. This is a possibility, but the Tour is doing all it can to figure out a way to avert such an outcome, and if it means a little less coverage for SONY on Thursday, to make it all happen for posterity, then so be it. Maybe.

The winds are howling again. They always blow at Kapalua and that’s why its Plantation Course fairways and holes were designed by Coore and Crenshaw with such enormity and scale. Everyone who lives and plays golf on Maui knows it blows like crazy out there, and while this is indeed a stretch of unusually strong wind, most on the Valley Isle suck it up and play anyway. That’s golf.

But for the Tour’s official event, with balls rolling uphill when the breezes kick up, expecting a quality competition to come off as it is expected to isn’t going to happen. The 40+ mph gusts are too much to today’s pros, but there were days when winds of over 50 mph were endured on flat, exposed courses and the drama was, if anything, more spectacular. Scottish links courses are a good example of venues that are exposed and windy. In the 1970 Open, Jack Nicklaus endured winds that were 10 mph stronger than at Kapalua. He prevailed in a playoff on 18, after hitting his 3-wood 380-yards from the tee and over the green. But times are, I guess, different.

While digging around online for news about today’s delay, I was bummed to see how little front page news the event was capturing. There were stories about everything but golf’s season-opener—even if it is a wash of sorts.

It got me thinking about how creative Mark Rolfing had been just a few years back. Not only did Mark have a heck of a lot going on before the event, but he kept things rolling throughout it as well. I can’t recall exactly every detail, but I do know he had the players doing a little extra that week. It made me sad that whoever is running the show, just doesn’t have the creative juice to make something out of nothing during this lull.

Here we have a chance to show off Hawaii but the stars who have come are all in their rooms Tweeting. Why can’t they be giving a clinic on how to play in the winds? Why can’t they have an impromptu long drive contest or a putting contest or a shot-making expedition? Maybe involve the fans, junior golfers, volunteers?

Where are Hawaii’s mighty PR and marketing people from Oahu this week? Why aren’t they filling up some shuttle buses with these star pros and taking them up to Haleakala, and having them hit balls down into the crater? Make these boys earn their money! Get some value for the taxpayer, sponsor, and other money that is going into all those private jets that were used to haul these guys out here!

I would wager that if the organizers had asked the pros if they’d help the island and Hawaii out, for the sake of tourism that the image of these guys being shown as kind, generous souls would reap rewards for Finchem and his southern gang. Think of what a contrast it would be to see these guys actually being generous with their time and creative and funny too! How novel. We know they are great in front of the cameras, on pro am days (usually), but imagine just being downright nice for a change. It would be such a reversal from what we are used to, it might even front page news (as opposed to all the other junk I saw on the front pages of the NYTimes.com, ESPN.com, and Golf.com)….

Think of the headlines:

“Winds don’t blow away the charm of old Hawaii as pros discover Valley Isle wonders while waiting for break in weather. Golf balls in crater, blasting out of Big Beach, and getting the line on Molokini make up for weather woes.”

“Tournament of Champions field stirs up fan emotions and appreciation as they wow event galleries in a brilliant display of showmanship and heart.”

“‘These guys are good!’ Rather than complaining about the weather or sacking out in their five-star hotel rooms, the game’s best give back to the fans with non-stop impromptu antics. Talk about good sports”

I literally did screen grabs of all of the aforementioned sites, and none had even a peep about this event on their homepages. Would Ian Poulter getting off his rump and doing a little fan appreciation work at the Kapalua Golf Academy be a sterling gesture? Absolutely. Bubba, and the boys, trying to drive 17 or 18 or doing some awesome demonstrations, rather than sleeping, would that be good for the game, the fans, the resort, and all of the people who are up there right now delivering the greats all those wonderful tropical drinks? Would it have been great for all of them?

You betcha.

Did they do it?

Hell no!

But I think if they had, maybe the whole thing would have benefited just a little. The players would look good, the emphasis on who wins and how much they got and so forth would be replaced by people pulling together out on the remote Hawaiian island of Maui. In short: make the best of it!

When Jack, Arnie, Gary, and players from all over the world came here in 1962 to play in the Canada Cup, they partied on the Royal Course’s fairways—with the fans—and watched hula and listened to music and were happy to make friends with the little people.

Maybe we’ll see some of that before these hot shots hit the road. With all the lessons that golf is supposed to teach us, it is those who are the greatest at it today who have the opportunity to be the role models we all value and need.


The main homepage for golf.com had a link to this outdated story. It was written on Thursday and this is Sunday!

Yahoo’s front page has only some headlines for sports, but look at the titles of some of them—golf just isn’t getting its due!

ESPN’s website had literally nothing about the event on its main homepage. Not even a headline to keep the ‘fans’ involved and in the loop on telecasts.

How can I be in NYC and not look at what the Times has to say about the PGA Tour’s season-opening event’s woes? Look at this page: how long it is! Not a single word about the event. If you dig in the menus for golf, and go to that page, you’ll find a Reuters update, but nothing on the Sports homepage of the NY Times is a shame.

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